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Annapolis, MD: Therapy helps students with ASD; decreases anxiety

June 19, 2018, Annapolis (MD) Capital Gazette: Point Pleasant Elementary School's autism class experiences pup therapy …She said for the remainder of the day, behavior was affected. Zelenz-Dale said as with any other classroom, there was a lot of excitement about the visitors. Most of the 13 kids were interested in petting the dogs…. Some of the students’ Individualized Education Program, or IEP, goals were practiced, such as taking turns, social interaction with peers or using expressive language and choices. Zelenz-Dale said as with a general education classroom, her autistic students have varying degrees of abilities. Some are verbal and some are non-verbal, and use a device to communicate. The students are incorporated into the general education population as much as their abilities will allow…. “There is no better evidence for this than the incredible effect dogs can have on children with autism, the presence of a dog changes their whole dynamic — helping them learn skills in a fun way, decreasing ... anxiety, and so much more. Zelenz-Dale said the dogs are trained not to react to noises, such as a child yelling out. Calm personalities among the canines is a must. Although this was the first visit of the therapy dogs to the autism classroom, Zelenz-Dale said the group does have experience with Alternate Curriculum Classes (ACC)….

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