Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 6(1), pp. 94 - 106
DOI: 10.13189/sa.2018.060109
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Animal-assisted Therapy for the Emotional Well-being of Children with Intellectual Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders


Maylos Rodrigo-Claverol 1,2,*, Belén Malla-Clua 1, Esther Rodrigo-Claverol 3, Júlia Jové-Naval 1,4, Jèssica Bergadà-Bell-lloc 4, Josep Ramon Marsal-Mora 5,6
1 Primary Health Care Center Bordeta-Magraners, Catalan Institute of Health, Lleida, Spain
2 Nursing and Physiotherapy Faculty, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain
3 Primary Health Care Center Primer de Maig, Catalan Institute of Health, Lleida, Spain
4 Ilerkan Association, Lleida, Spain
5 Research Support Unit, IDIAP Jordi Gol, Lleida, Spain
6 Epidemiology Unit of the Cardiology Service, Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

ABSTRACT

Studies conducted in educational settings show that animals attract and maintain the attention of children. The calming effects of animals are especially valuable in children with attention deficit, hyperactivity and behavioral disorders. The primary goal was to improve the emotional well-being, in a special education school, of children with intellectual disabilities, attention problems and/or hyperactivity and behavioral disorders. A Longitudinal, Observational Study was designed, which consisted of a community intervention based on animal-assisted therapy (AAT), and performed at a Primary Care Center (PCC). Twelve weekly group sessions were held with therapy dogs; a nurse and a doctor from the PCC participated with training in AAT as well as teachers. The intervention was carried out in two classrooms at the school. The sample size was 12 children with an average age of 12.7 (SD±4.4) years. Variables studied: attention, happiness, relaxed, respect of turn. The overall improvement of the four variables was statistically significant (p <0.001), evolving in an ascending and progressive way. Throughout the sessions, a work dynamic was achieved with improved attention and respect of turns; happiness and relaxation that reflect emotional well-being remain at high levels, with the dog acting as a facilitator of the therapy. Primary Health Care can contribute to improving the quality of life of children with special needs and at risk of social exclusion by means of community interventions.

KEYWORDS
Animal-assisted Therapy, Primary Health Care Center, Community Intervention, Intellectual Disability, Emotional Wellbeing, School

Cite this paper
Maylos Rodrigo-Claverol , Belén Malla-Clua , Esther Rodrigo-Claverol , Júlia Jové-Naval , Jèssica Bergadà-Bell-lloc , Josep Ramon Marsal-Mora . "Animal-assisted Therapy for the Emotional Well-being of Children with Intellectual Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders." Sociology and Anthropology 6.1 (2018) 94 - 106. doi: 10.13189/sa.2018.060109.