Background and Objectives: Despite the scientific evidence of the positive effects of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is not still considered an evidence-based practice for this population. The proposed study will aim to evaluate the effects of a dog-assisted therapy program on gait, posture, and communication skills. Materials and Methods: A total of 24 adults with ASD will participate in this non-randomized controlled trial. The experimental group will involve 12 participants who will receive AAT for 10 weeks, at two sessions per week. The focus of these sessions will be conducting different activities and physical exercises, facilitated by dogs. The control group will receive treatment as usual. The outcome measures will be the ability to walk and climbing stairs, balance, risk of falls and communication skills. Conclusions: The role of dogs as facilitators of the movement may lead to relevant benefits in the gait, posture and communication skills of adults with ASD, improving their ability to perform activities of daily living.
animal-assisted therapy; autism spectrum disorder; dog-assisted therapy; rehabilitation
Isabel Gómez-Calcerrada 1, Ana Myriam Lavín-Pérez2,*, Santos Villafaina 3, Juan Carlos Rueda-Rubio 4, Beatriz Rivera-Martín5,6, Israel González-García5, Eugenio Merellano-Navarro7,*, Marta Mateo-Garitagoitia8, Carlota González-Plaza 9 and Daniel Collado-Mateo2,5