What is Animal Assisted Speech Therapy?

AAT is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. AAT is directed and/or delivered by a health/human service professional with specialized expertise, and within the scope of practice of his/her profession. AAT is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning [cognitive functioning refers to thinking and intellectual skills]. AAT is provided in a variety of settings and may be group or individual in nature. This process is documented and evaluated.

  • Vera
  • Vera with kid
  • Mabel with glasses

    • Mabel and Edie [/slide]

    Meet Mabel and Edie

    We are proud to offer animal assisted therapy in our office. Bri and her first dog, Vera, received specialized training and passed a 22-part evaluation to become part of a person-animal team trained to provide services in a variety of settings. They further underwent special training to work one-on-one with patients to help them meet their therapy goals. This specialized training has been passed down through generations of dogs, including Mabel. Edie joined the family in 2022 and is still practicing, but loves to be in the office.

    How can AAT help?

    When the dogs participates in therapy sessions, they are actively involved in goal directed therapy.  Their presence is is used to encourage patients in many different ways including:

    • Working on pronouncing words by saying their names or giving commands for them to perform tricks
    • They teach personal care skills and organization of tasks by practicing routines to care for a dog
    • They are a great topic for describing, labeling, commenting, story-telling and social communication
    • For children with sensory challenges, the dogs are a tool to help them learn to regulate their emotions and appropriately ignore and tolerate their presence
    • They are great listeners for children working on improving reading skills
    • They make the therapy experience new, fun and interesting
    • Their presence helps to promote more natural communication, leading to easier carry over of newly learned skills

    Above all, the dogs are a great source of motivation. They love everyone equally and never notice a disability. Sometimes people need that extra level of acceptance to try something that is particularly difficult for them, and they are happy to just be a part of the experience.