Furry Friends Help Special Kids Connect to the World -Trenton Times 1/28/13

By Times of Trenton Letters to the Editor The Times, Trenton
on January 28, 2013 at 6:20 Am

Furry friends help special kids connect to the world
A therapy dog can assist those with autism spectrum disorder. A Mercer County family has recently received their very own therapy dog and it has affected their son’s life in a way they never could have imagined.

Children with autism can become very depressed when faced with everyday social interactions that most people find easy.

A therapy dog can not only help alleviate the child’s stress, but also help the child interact socially with many new friends. (Who does not want to run up and pet a cute dog?) Not only can a therapy dog help children interact socially, but children can form a bond with their new furry friend, which they might not have previously experienced with people.

Rutgers University professor Julie Fagan, along with several other student researchers and I are working with the nonprofit Attitudes in Reverse to investigate whether visits with therapy dogs would be helpful for those afflicted by autism.

Teams of therapy dogs and handlers will be going approximately one hour a week for six weeks to those homes that have requested to participate in the study.

We will be scheduling the free sessions beginning in February. Our first task is enlisting families to join the project. Interested families should log onto our project website ruffloveus.wordpress.com or contact me for more information at (908) 307-1917 or czinna@eden.rutgers.edu.

— Courtney Zinna,
The writer is research coordinator for the study at Rutgers University, where she is an undergraduate student.




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