Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Awards Grant to University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Washington, D.C. (August 4, 2015) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) today announced it has awarded a $40,000 grant to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus for a study titled Physiological Wellness Effects of Animal-Assisted Activities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Specialized Psychiatric Hospital Program.
This study will examine the influence of animal-assisted activities on the mental health and wellness of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is hypothesized that children will demonstrate lower physiological arousal when in the presence of dogs.
“Anecdotal reports of animal-assisted activities have observed such benefits as decreased anxiety-related behaviors as well as increases in social interactions, language, and safety awareness [in children with ASD],” said Dr. Robin Gabriels, PsyD, Principal Investigator and Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “But we are in need of more research on how canines specifically, can be helpful to this population. It is our hope that our pilot project will provide preliminary evidence to validate the observed benefits and increase understanding of the mechanisms underlying this positive effect.”
The two-year crossover study will examine participants during a standard 20-minute social skills group, with 10 minutes of free interaction in the presence of a dog and 10 minutes in the presence of engaging toys. Using specialized wristbands to measure physiological arousal, researchers will compare the levels conducted within the two sessions.
“With high-quality scientific research, HABRI can make animal-assisted therapy a valuable addition to the treatments available for people with autism spectrum disorder,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “There is a growing body of scientific evidence that companion animals are important to human health. This research will ultimately help bring the healing power of the human-animal bond to more people who need it.”
The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; to date has funded more than half a million dollars in innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information about the HABRI Foundation, visit http://www.habri.org.
About the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus combines state-of-the-art teaching, research and clinical facilities to prepare the region’s future health care professionals and help fuel its economy. CU Anschutz is the only comprehensive academic health sciences center in the state, with schools of medicine, pharmacy, dental medicine and public health, a college of nursing and a graduate school.
More Press Releases
New Survey Shows Cat Owners with Cat Allergen Sensitivities Go to Extraordinary Lengths to Manage Cat Allergens
For the as many as 1 in 5 adults globally who are affected by cat allergen sensitivities, the daily effort to manage cat allergens and coexist with the cats they love can be a struggle. From excessive cleaning around the house to spending less time with the cat, there are no easy choices. Despite these daily struggles, cat owners are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their cats, going as far as ignoring doctor’s orders. If told by their doctor to give up their cat to help manage cat allergens, 84 percent of cat owners would dismiss the advice. Twenty percent even said they would keep the cat and get a new doctor, showing the need for better management methods. These statistics are from a new survey of 2,000 U.S. cat owners from Purina Pro Plan, a leader in pet nutrition, in partnership with the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), which sought to understand the impact of cat allergens on cat-owning households. The survey confirmed that the bond that owners share with their cats is strong – a universal truth for all cat owners regardless of cat allergen sensitivities. Ninety percent of cat owners feel their cats are members of the family, and three in four owners say their relationship with their cat is important to and a core part of their health and well-being. But it’s not always easy for those with cat allergen sensitivities; 37 percent say they’ve had to change their lifestyle to accommodate their cat, significantly higher than those without sensitivities (22 percent). In an effort to help, Purina Pro Plan has introduced Pro Plan LiveClear, the first and only cat food that reduces the allergens in cat hair and dander. Backed by more than a decade of research, Pro Plan LiveClear is shown to safely and effectively reduce allergens in cat hair and dander in as little as three weeks of daily feeding. The key ingredient is a specific protein sourced from eggs. When cats eat LiveClear, the protein binds to the major cat allergen, Fel d 1, and...
New Research Shows Cats Help Children with Autism
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) today announced the results of a new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing titled, “Exploratory study of cat adoption in families of children with autism: Impact on children’s social skills and anxiety,” demonstrating that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience increases in empathy and decreases in problem behaviors after adoption of a shelter cat into their families. “Our study found that children with ASD experienced significant increases in the social skill of empathy, significant decreases in problem behaviors including bullying and hyperactivity/inattention, and also less separation anxiety after the introduction of a shelter cat,” said Gretchen Carlisle, PhD, MEd, RN, research scientist at the University of Missouri Research Center for Human Animal Interaction (ReCHAI). “Previous research has focused on interactions of dogs with children who have ASD, but dogs may not provide the best fit for all children and their families, especially given the hypersensitivities to sound that are common among children with ASD,” Carlisle said. “We hope the results of this study will help encourage more families to consider the possibility of cat ownership and help more shelter cats find loving, deserving homes.” “For the first time, we have scientific research that shows how beneficial cats can be for families of children with ASD,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI, the primary funder of the study. “Selecting a suitable family pet is an important decision. Families with a child with ASD now have more information and more choices, and we hope that this will also help more shelter cats find good homes.” Findings of the Feline Friends study, led by researchers at the University of Missouri, demonstrated that children with an adopted shelter cat had better empathy and less separation anxiety, as well as fewer problem behaviors exhibited by less externalizing, bullying...
Study Finds Dogs De-Stress Families with Autistic Children
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation announced today the results of a long-term study to explore the effects of pet dogs on families with children with autism spectrum disorder, just published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. The findings of the study showed significantly improved family functioning of families with a dog compared to those without. The study also found a reduction in parent-child dysfunctional interactions among families that had a dog. “While there is growing evidence that animal-assisted therapy can aid in the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders, this study is one of the first to examine how pet dog ownership can also improve the lives of those more widely affected by autism,” said the principal investigator on the study, Professor Daniel Mills, BVSc, PhD, from the University of Lincoln, UK. “We found a significant, positive relationship between parenting stress of the child’s main caregiver and their attachment to the family dog. This highlights the importance of the bond between the carer and their dog in the benefits they gain.” HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman said: “Parents of children with autism can experience increased anxiety and stress, and now we have strong scientific evidence to show that pets can have positive effects on these quality-of-life issues. Families with an autistic child should consider pet ownership as a way to improve family harmony.” This...