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Occupational Therapy, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique
  • Sams, M. J., Fortney, E. V., & Willenbring, S. (2006). Occupational therapy incorporating animals for children with autism:A pilot investigation. American Occupational Therapy Association, 60, 268–274.
  • Mona J. Sams, MA, OTR/L, is Director, Mona’s Ark, 240

Old Mine Road, Troutville, Virginia 24175.

Elizabeth V. Fortney, PhD, is Licensed Clinical

Psychologist, Central State Hospital, Petersburg, Virginia;

[email protected]

Stan Willenbring, PhD, is Associate Professor, Dabney S.

Lancaster Community College, Clifton Forge, Virginia.

The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of different types of occupational therapy with autistic children. The first type of treatment offered was simply normal occupational therapy.  The second type of treatment offered was occupational therapy with the presence of animals.

The principal investigators chose a cohort of 22 students. The 22 students were given two types of therapy: “normal” occupational therapy and occupational therapy augmented with animals. The principal investigators then assessed the use of language and social interaction in the two sessions. The methods tried to assess whether the use of music helped in these sessions.

The study found that children demonstrated greater use of language and social interaction in sessions where animals were present. The findings not only suggest that the use of animals may be beneficial for occupational therapy sessions, but also open the door to other “unorthodox” methods that might stray from traditional methods.

The study, although only conducted once, provides interesting for pediatric occupational therapy. Often times, practitioners focus on improvements in the existing paradigm of treatment.  This study shows, however, that augmenting traditional methods may also lead to better results.  This study needs to be replicated in order to become a part of general practice.

Overall, this study provides an interesting analytical framework in order to help children deal with the effects of the autism. While the outcome of the study is certainly interesting, there might be questions of validity in giving the intervention to individuals over and over.  That is,  there may be questions related to whether the relationship actually exists or represents something else. Since this is the first piece of research, however, there will be efforts to replicate it.

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