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Experiences of family life with an autism assistance dog

Smyth, C and Slevin, Eamonn (2010) Experiences of family life with an autism assistance dog. Learning Disability Practice, 13 (4). pp. 12-17. [Journal article]

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URL: http://learningdisabilitypractice.rcnpublishing.co.uk/resources/archive/GetArticleById.asp?ArticleId=7758


This article examines the day-to-day experiences of parents living with an assistance dog for their autistic child, and that of the whole family. Seven such parents were interviewed after an assistance dog had been placed with their families to support their child. From the responses, seven main themes were identified: safety, freedom, skills acquirement, family cohesion, social acknowledgement, companionship and concerns. The children benefited with regard to safety, companionship, positive social acknowledgement and development of motor skills. Benefits for parents and family included decreased anxiety about the child’s safety, reduced the number of child tantrums, increased family outings and positive social acknowledgement. Concerns included the maintenance of dog training, feeding, grooming, exercise and toileting, the dog’s eventual ageing and death, and the danger that the child might not understand that not all dogs are as helpful and friendly as assistance dogs. There was agreement that overall the presence of the assistance dog had considerably improved the whole family’s quality of life.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Nursing
Research Institutes and Groups:Institute of Nursing and Health Research
Institute of Nursing and Health Research > Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
ID Code:15724
Deposited By: Dr Eamonn Slevin
Deposited On:20 Sep 2010 12:02
Last Modified:15 Mar 2011 11:18

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