- Published on 10 January 2019
Speech therapists working with children need all the help they can get, but few would honestly have predicted that scientific evidence would support bringing dogs into sessions.
A recent randomised controlled trial led by Kristýna Machová and team from Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague found that children with the common disorder of developmental dysphasia responded better to therapy sessions with a dog present than those in a similar control group with no dog.
The study involved 69 children of nursery-school age split into two groups, one visited by a 10-year-old Peruvian Hairless Dog named Agáta. Better responses were noted in the dog-accompanied children when asked to perform particular therapy exercises such as filling up their cheeks with air, smiling, and narrowing and shutting their eyes.
Children's fear of the therapy situation seems to be calmed by the canine factor, observed the authors of the study, which noted specific "promise in improving orofacial motricity skills" as a result of the improved ambience, with kids more motivated and open to communicating.
“The presence of the dog improves the relationship with the therapist, as it distracts from the fear of therapy in children and provides them with a form of support during the practice,” said research leader Machová.
The study was published in the Anthrozoös, a Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People and Animals.
Source: Healio/Infectious Diseases in Children