Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dogs, Dolphins and ... Elephant Therapy for Autistic Children?

Dogs, Dolphins and ... Elephant Therapy for Autistic Children?

There have been numerous reports of the benefits of therapy dogs for autistic children and some have sung praises for having autistic children swim with dolphins. In Thailand, elephant therapy with, yes, elephants has been found to help some autistic children. Nuntanee Satiansukpong, head of the occupational therapy department at Chiang Mai University, first thought that elephants might be beneficial for the sensory issues that many autistic children struggle with.

Here's a description from CBS news:

The kids scrub and soap the elephants' bristly hides, play ball games with them, and ride them bareback, smiling.

"Chang, chang (Elephant, elephant). Children, have you ever seen an elephant?" the group sings, clapping hands to the traditional Thai nursery tune and hugging the elephants' trunks. Disco-like, Nua Un bobs her head and sways....

Wittaya Khem-nguad is the founder of the project. So far, claims of the therapy's effectiveness rest on the experience of only four autistic boys. Rebecca Johnson, who heads the at the University of Missouri, says a larger sample size of participants needs to be studied.

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