The Promotion of Pediatric Sensory Integration Using Small Animals in a Clinical or Classroom Environment: A Resource for Occupational Therapists

Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne M. Haskins


Animal Assisted Therapy -- education; Sensation Disorders -- therapy


The purpose of this scholarly project was to create and provide a program to assist occupational therapists in setting up, managing, and providing animal assisted activities and therapies (AAA/T) as a useful conjunction with sensory integration therapy.

A review of the literature revealed a lack of information for occupational therapists to provide AAA/T with children. The research revealed that the use of sensory integration therapy as a pre-established framework to implement AAA/T would provide a research based platform to present a program incorporating animals into therapy.

Based on the literature findings, a product was developed to guide occupational therapists in the facilitation of starting an AAA/T program using a sensory integration framework. The program focus has been directed towards providing a step by step program for therapists to provide AAA/T using a sensory integrative framework. The steps addressed include, but are not limited to, Sensory Integration Theory, defining AAA/T, and providing therapeutic ideas for therapists to use in their clinical or classroom practice.

An informational program was created for therapists, parents and caregivers that will provide them with comprehensive information about sensory integration therapy incorporating animals into therapy. The manual was created to be provide a detailed process to facilitate incorporating AAA/T programs using a sensory integrative framework and provide a better understanding of the treatment process in which a child and his or her family will be engaged. Two manuals were created to provide the presenter and participant with all the materials needed to complete the presentations. The presenters' manual has all the handouts to provide the participant with the necessary information as needed and at the discretion of the presenter.

Sensory integrative therapy incorporating animals is a therapeutic approach for which the support is limited in the research. Providing a program that can be attended by occupational therapists and other school and medical professionals, parents and caregivers will provide an opportunity to become more involved in any AAA/T treatment program. The information provided will allow occupational therapists an opportunity to learn how to provide AAAlT and will assist parents in making more informed decisions regarding the course any AAA/T therapy program. The overall goals of this program and the Scholarly Project were to increase awareness of the positive effects of AAA/T and assist therapists with a program to achieve a successful AAA/T program.

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