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.
We are proud to offer animal assisted therapy in our office. Vera is a 8-year-old dog who was certified by The Delta Society, an organization dedicated to training and certifying service and therapy animals. In October of 2009, she passed a 22-part evaluation to become a Pet Partner, part of a person-animal team trained to provide services in a variety of settings. She further underwent special training to work one-on-one with patients to help them meet their therapy goals.
How can Vera help?
When Vera participates in therapy sessions, she is actively involved in goal directed therapy. Her presence is is used to encourage patients in many different ways including:
- Working on pronouncing words by saying her name or giving commands for her to perform tricks
- Vera teaches personal care skills and organization of tasks by practicing routines to care for a dog
- She is a great topic for describing, labeling, commenting, story-telling and social communication
- For children with sensory challenges, Vera is a tool to help then learn to regulate their emotions and appropriately ignore and tolerate her presence
- She is a great listener for children working on improving reading skills
- She makes the therapy experience new, fun and interesting
- Her presence helps to promote more natural communication, leading to easier carry over of newly learned skills
Above all, Vera is a great source of motivation. She loves everyone equally and never notices a disability. Sometimes people need that extra level of acceptance to try something that is particularly difficult for them, and she is happy to just be a part of the experience.