Kynotherapy as a method of supporting the development of independence of children with Down syndrome

More and more therapists, teachers and parents are becoming interested kynotherapy (dog therapy). It has been successfully used in pedagogical therapy, rehabilitation, psychotherapy and rehabilitation of children and adults. In the case of children with disabilities it is also a source of joy and pleasure. A dog used in the classroom – as a kind of “co-therapist” – makes the atmosphere distinctly unique and exceptional, thereby offering opportunities unknown in other types of therapy. A therapy dog may play a creative role in a child’s world, in which he or she will acquire and develop new cognitive and social skills. This article attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of kynotherapy in supporting the development of independent living people with Down syndrome in quantitative terms. The article presents the results of the tests conducted prior to and after the implementation of the ten-month kynotherapy programme in an eight-person group of children with Down syndrome, in which seven subjects suffered from moderate intellectual disability and one – severe intellectual disability. The study was conducted with the use of a panel of observations and technique of the authors’ own design as a research tool, that is Social Functioning Sheet diagnosis.
The analysis of the results revealed a significant and, in some cases, considerable improvements in the
analysed behaviours that are indicative of „self independence” test, thus indicating the effectiveness of this method in improving and reducing deficits in people with Down syndrome.

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Vincent Pol University in Lublin