Special Education M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Turner, Charlene


Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is used to improve the overall mental, physical, emotional, and social functioning of a patient. The use of animals in therapy practice is becoming more common, yet it is still not entirely integrated in to the educational setting. The research regarding the effectiveness of this type of therapy is limited, but there are a number of therapists and patients who can attest to its benefits. Animal assisted therapy has been shown to have profound effectiveness with specific populations of students who receive special education services. These populations include students diagnosed with emotional/behavior disorders and autism spectrum disorder. Upon evaluation of appropriateness, therapy dogs can be used in the classroom to increase social communication, as well as assist in helping students understand emotions and feelings. In certain cases, a 1:1 service dog may be essential in helping a child with autism spectrum disorder find success.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis