Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)
What Is Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)?
A foundational element therapy at Pasadena Villa’s Stables Autism Program is the interaction with animals and nature. Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) helps improve trust, communication, confidence, boundaries, impulse control, management of emotions, focus and attention, relationship-building, empathy, and self-control. All animal activities are conducted by professionals who have incorporated animals as part of their specialty or by another staff member under their supervision. Additionally, Smoky Mountain Lodge residents also have weekly access to The Stables, our tranquil location offering equine therapy and other forms of animal-assisted therapy.
Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that consists of a range of difficulties in communication skills, speech, fine or gross motor skills, and intellectual ability. ASD covers a wide scope of symptoms that range in both severity and type. One of the key aspects of autism is difficulty with social interaction. Many people with ASD struggle in social settings and in their interactions with others. AAT for autism offers recognizable benefits in terms of social behaviors.
Individuals on the spectrum show a noticeable increase in positive behaviors after treatment that’s accompanied by an animal. Alongside an animal, they tend to smile, laugh, talk, and participate more. Animals serve as a conversation starter and bridge between them and the people they interact with.Another great benefit of AAT is the calming effects that animals have. Interacting with an animal can relieve stress during situations that might normally cause an individual to become angry or frustrated. Clinicians have noted many other positive effects, including increased self-confidence, reduced feelings of loneliness, and increased physical fitness, strength, and coordination.
Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Options
AAT consists of many different options as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s adaptable to each individual and their specific preferences and situations. The flexibility makes it a great addition to any existing treatment programs. Some AAT options include:
- Service Animals
- Emotional Support Animals
- Therapy Animals
- Family Pets