Therapy Animals for Children with Angelman Syndrome

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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Therapy animals may be helpful for children with Angelman syndrome, complementing treatment with medications and physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

Animal-assisted therapy can reduce pain, depression, fatigue, and anxiety in these children, and enhance the benefits of traditional treatment.

What are therapy animals?

Therapy animals are pets, usually dogs, who have been obedience-trained and screened for their ability to interact with people and other animals.

A therapy animal is different from a service animal or an emotional support animal. Service animals are trained to help patients with a specific problem, like detecting epileptic seizures a few moments before they start. Emotional support animals are another category of therapy animals that must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. Emotional support animals do not usually receive any specialized training but should be obedient.

What happens during animal-assisted therapy?

Interacting with an animal during therapy and medical procedures can help your child stay calm and focused. For many patients, it is easier to interact with an animal than a person and having an animal present can be calming.

Therapy animals also can be used during physiotherapy.  During such movement therapy, your child might be asked to play a game with a dog, or brush the dog to work on muscle coordination and movement, for example.

How can I find animal-assisted therapy in my area?

Your best resource to find animal-assisted therapy in your area is to talk to your child’s care team or therapist. If they don’t already offer animal therapy, they should be able to recommend a clinic or therapist in your area who does.

 

Last updated: March 2, 2020

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