Where To Begin

 Interested in Participating in our Research Study on Animals and Autism?

The use of service and “therapy” animals in the treatment of a variety of emotional disorders, including depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and autism, has recently come into the spotlight.  Hopeful parents, caregivers, and individuals suffering from such disorders want to latch onto a new non drug therapy that may help manage the disorder.  Unfortunately, there have been few scientific studies evaluating the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy in the treatment of such disorders, including autism.

This is where you come in.  Help us determine whether therapy dogs prove to be beneficial for those with autism.  As a control, some families will receive visits with a stuffed toy dog and handler.  These families would later have the opportunity to receive home therapy dog visits. There is no charge or compensation for participating.

If interested in participating either as a therapy dog provider or as a family member with autism spectrum disorder, please email:  ruffloveus@yahoo.com

Steps to Beginning Your Therapy Dog Sessions

1) Go to ruffloveus.wordpress.com to get a general idea of what the study is all about and who is involved.

2) Email Dr. Julie Fagan at ruffloveus@yahoo.com with the following information:

a) A telephone number.  Dr. Julie Fagan will then call you to discuss the details of the therapy dog visits and the research study.

b) General idea of where you live (city/street)?

c) What days / hours are you available for therapy dog visits?

d) What days/hours are not good?

e) Has your family member with autism spectrum disorder expressed fear around large or certain kinds of dogs (or dogs in general)?

f) Has he/she had positive or negative experiences with dogs, companion animals in the past?

g) Can you elaborate on that experience?

h) Has he/she ever worked with a therapy dog?

3) Dr. Fagan will contact you by phone to arrange to have a therapy dog handler call you to set up your first therapy dog session.

4) At the first therapy dog visit, the parent/guardian will be asked to fill out a pre-therapy dog session survey (ATEC) and provided a consent form.  The survey may take a half-hour to fill out.  All responses will remain anonymous.

5) During the first session, therapy dogs or a non-live (stuffed toy) dog will be introduced and activities such as reading,  petting, feeding, and talking to the dog will begin (parent/guardian should not be in the room if possible).

6) In the following week’s therapy sessions, during the therapy dog session, the parent/ guardian will be asked to fill out the same survey which will assess the prior week’s behavior/responses.

7) Sessions will occur once a week over a 6 week period. Each session will range 30 to 60 minutes depending on tolerance.

8) Our research study is completely voluntary and the parent/guardian may discontinue the study at any time.

LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU!  Contact ruffloveus@yahoo.com to get started!

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