therapy animals

Therapy Animals and Autism


Learning the difference between the different types of support animals and the research about the benefits animals bring to our lives helped all the attendees of our Lecture Series – Therapy Animals and Autism: Finding the right fit for your family. Many also discovered how therapy animals help children learn in academic settings.

Patti Anderson shared research on how animals reduce cortisol, the “stress hormone,” in humans. But also how animals benefit from the therapeutic relationship. There are distinct categories of support animals: service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals. It is important to find the right fit for your family. Not all families need a service animal, and not all animals are able to become a support animal.

Attendees got to interact with Patti’s guinea pigs, who are trained therapy animals. Through that interaction we discovered ways in which to engage individuals with autism with animals and the impact that engagement can have. Practice with social skills and stress reduction are some of the benefits, but there are many others: reduced depression, anxiety, fear and loneliness, decrease in behavior problems, increase in positive social interactions and support and motivation to participate. Overall the research shows that animal assisted therapy has a calming effect on people.

Before committing to having an animal in your family, be sure to look into the different types of support available, how an animal will fit into your family, and what specific types of support you need.

Resources shared:

There are opportunities to introduce your family to therapy animals. Visit these local events and discover the impact therapy animals have on your loved one. You can also contact North Star Therapy Animals or Patti Anderson to invite therapy animals to your school, group or event.

  • Hoppy Hour at the Humane Society in Golden Valley every other Sunday at 1:00 pm
  • Sensitive Family Time at Maple Grove and Plymouth Libraries

Join us at our next Lecture Series class, Autism Therapies at Home on November 5!

Author: Editorial Team

A select group of our board members who have something to say, but want to say it together. We also use this byline for those who wish to write anonymously.

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