Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Pets-Therapeutic use, Autism in children-Treatment, Animal-assisted therapy, Pet therapy, Autism, Children with autism, Parents of autistic children


This qualitative study was designed using flexible research methods to explore the accessibility of animal-assisted therapy for children with autism. The research question this study explored was Is animal-assisted therapy accessible to children with autism? An analysis of the literature revealed 1 out of every 150 children is diagnosed with autism and incidences are increasing rapidly. While there is no known cure for autism, many treatments have been found effective. Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to reduce the behavioral symptoms associated with autism, increase socialization and communication, and positively influenced the quality of life for those living with autism, making animal-assisted therapy viable intervention for this population. The findings were based on 12 semi-structured interviews with parents of children diagnosed of autism. Each participant was asked to share his/her experience with animal-assisted therapy. Their initial answer was categorized into two groups: those who have participated in animal-assisted therapy, and those who have not. Specific questions then targeted their experience with accessibility of animal-assisted therapy. The findings suggest there is a lack of accessibility to animal-assisted therapy for children with autism. Due to small sample size and isolated demographics, sample may not be representative of the entire population and may be limited by geographical area. However, these promising results have set the groundwork for future studies with a larger sample size.




iii, 66 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 54-57)