What factors are associated with positive effects of dog ownership in families with children with autism spectrum disorder? The development of the Lincoln Autism Pet Dog Impact Scale

Hall, Sophie Susannah and Wright, Hannah F. and Mills, Daniel Simon (2016) What factors are associated with positive effects of dog ownership in families with children with autism spectrum disorder? The development of the Lincoln Autism Pet Dog Impact Scale. PLoS ONE, 11 (2). e0149736. ISSN 1932-6203

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149736

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Abstract

Scientific literature exploring the value of assistance dogs to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is rapidly emerging. However, there is comparably less literature reporting the effects of pet (as opposed to assistance) dogs to these children. In particular, there are no known validated scales which assess how children may alter their behaviours in the presence of the dog, to evaluate the efficacy of pet dogs to these families. Additionally, given the highly individualised nature of ASD it is likely that some children and families gain more benefits from dog ownership than others, yet no research has reported the effect of individual differences. This pilot study reports the development of a 28-item scale based on the perceived impact of a pet dog on a child with autism by parents (Lincoln Autism Pet Dog Impact Scale, LAPDIS). The scale is comprised of three mathematically derived factors: Adaptability, Social Skills and Conflict Management. We assessed how individual differences (aspects) may be associated with scores on these three factors. Family Aspects and Dog Aspects were not significantly associated with ratings on the three factors, but Child Aspects (including: contact with horses, child age, disability level and language abilities) were related to impact of the dog on all factors. Training Aspects were related to scores on Social Skills (formal training with children with ASD and dogs and attendance at PAWS workshops run by Dogs for Good). These results suggest that individual differences associated with the child and the training approach may be important considerations for a positive impact from dog ownership on families with children with ASD. Differences in family features and the dog may not be so important, but may be worthy of further investigations given the early stage of development in this field.

Keywords:animal companionship, JCOpen
Subjects:L Social studies > L520 Child Care
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D390 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:22323
Deposited On:22 Feb 2016 17:12

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