Study Will Examine Impact of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Washington, D.C. (August 7, 2014) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) today announced it had awarded a $24,000 grant to Green Chimneys, a leader in animal-assisted therapy and educational programs, for a new research study, Animal-‐Assisted Social Skills Training for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
This grant to Green Chimneys advances the HABRI Foundation’s mission to better document the effects of animals on human health through scientific research,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “Animals can play a positive role in the lives of those with autism, and we look forward to learning more as a result of this study.
Further exploring the effect of dogs on children with ASD, the purpose of this study is to develop and test an animal-assisted social skills intervention. As one of the first research projects undertaken by The Sam & Myra Ross Institute at Green Chimneys, the 12-week study will include a controlled trial with 32 Green Chimneys students ages 8-15, comparing an animal-assisted social skills group and a traditional social skills training group without an animal present.
It is predicted that participants in the social skills training group that incorporates work with dogs will exhibit greater levels of change in social skills, perspective taking, theory of mind and decreased feelings of isolation when compared with those participants receiving the traditional social skills training. If significant results are found, it will further demonstrate that animal-assisted interventions are a valid approach for teaching children with ASD the skills necessary to engage with peers and will further support the role of the human-animal bond in advancing children with developmental delays.
Green Chimneys’ long history of incorporating animal-assisted activities into therapeutic treatment makes it an ideal laboratory for conducting research in the area of human-animal interaction (HAI),” said Dr. Steven Klee, Green Chimneys Associate Executive Director, Clinical & Medical Services. “This grant from HABRI will help advance our understanding of HAI, add to the growing pool of data demonstrating the benefits of integrating animals into therapy and ultimately, create strong practice models for treatment professionals.”
More Press Releases
HABRI Named Among the Best Animal Therapy Non-Profits of 2017
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has been chosen as one of the best animal therapy non-profits of the year by Healthline.com, one of the largest and fastest growing health information sites on the web. “This honor boosts HABRI’s mission to establish the human-animal bond as an essential part of our health and wellness,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI Executive Director. “It also serves as a seal-of-approval that shows HABRI is making a real difference for the health of both people and their pets.” According to Healthline.com, they put together their list with a focus on non-profits “actively working to educate, inspire, and support people while sharing the benefits of therapy animals,” and commended these organizations for being “dedicated to exploring and supporting the human-animal bond.” “It is tremendously gratifying to see HABRI’s work to fund human-animal bond scientific research recognized in this way,” Feldman added. “HABRI also extends its congratulations to the other non-profit organizations recognized by healthline.com for providing animal therapy programs and services to people in need.”
PetSmart Joins HABRI Board of Trustees
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced that Sherry Jane Love, PetSmart Vice President Merchandise Buying – Hardgoods, has been elected to the HABRI Board of Trustees. PetSmart joins the three founding organizations on the Board – American Pet Products Association (APPA), Petco, and Zoetis – in making a major commitment to advancing scientific research that demonstrates how pets are good for human health. “PetSmart is a leader in strengthening the human-animal bond for millions of pet owners,” said APPA President and CEO Bob Vetere, who serves as HABRI President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “With Sherry Jane Love lending her time and talent to the HABRI Board of Trustees, PetSmart is showing how serious it is about achieving good health at both ends of the leash.” “At PetSmart, we have always been firm believers that pets make us better people, and we know the positive impact they have on our lives,” said Sherry Jane Love, PetSmart Vice President Merchandise Buying – Hardgoods. “HABRI is unifying everyone who believes in the healing power of pets. PetSmart is proud to be part of this important effort to strengthen and share the human-animal bond.” The HABRI Board of Trustees is the governing body that oversees the programs and activities of this 5-year-old non-profit organization. HABRI funds research on an annual basis in the areas of child health and development; healthy aging; and mental health and wellness, contributing to the growing body of evidence that shows companion animals are good for human health. HABRI also widely shares information about how the presence of companion animals in society helps make individuals, families, and communities healthier.
Email Reminder + Dog = Increased Physical Activity
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced the results of a study exploring the effects of an email mediated intervention to increase walking in dog owners and non-dog owners, conducted by researchers at Purdue University and published in the journal Clinical Nursing Research. Findings of the study showed that a simple email intervention sharing the importance of walking and the positive impact of walking on a dog’s health were effective tools to promote walking. These interventions caused participants to increase and maintain dog walking over a 12-month period. Email intervention for non-dog owners also increased weekly minutes of walking compared with baseline measures and control groups, however dog owners accumulated significantly more walking minutes per week than non-dog owners. “Walking is an easy, accessible way to increase physical activity, which is important for the health of people and their pets,” said the principal investigator on the study, Elizabeth A. Richards, PhD, RN, CHES, of Purdue University. “Because an email reminder is so simple, these findings should be easy to replicate, encouraging dog owners and non-dog owners alike to lead more physically active lifestyles.” Participants assigned to the intervention group received a twice-weekly email message for the first four weeks of the intervention followed by weekly email messages for the next eight weeks. The emails attempted to influence confidence through a variety of mechanisms which the investigators hypothesized would directly influence dog walking for dog owners and walking for non-dog owners. Previous studies have supported that dog owners who walk their dogs are motivated to do so because of dog-related support for walking. A number of dog-owner participants in this study anecdotally reported that their ability to maintain behavior change in physical activity was in part due to the dog expecting a walk and conditioning the owner to comply. “With...