Who It Helps
The national average for children diagnosed with Autism is 1 in 59, while Arizona’s rate is 1 in 64. One in 40 are boys. As for children in general with disabilities, Arizona’s rate is 4.3% compared with the national average of 5%. Arizona ranks second in the country as a state that provides services for children on the Autism Spectrum. Children diagnosed with Autism is just one several special needs diagnosis we serve in the community.
Animal Assisted Therapy makes use of trained animal and handler teams as an integral part of a goal-oriented treatment plan for individuals with individual special needs. The variety of animals used includes, but isn’t limited to, dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, birds and horses. Because animals are accepting and non-judgmental, they make it easier for people to feel more relaxed and more comfortable during their personal treatment sessions.

Unlike Animal Assisted Therapy used in nursing homes and hospitals, our handler and therapy dog teams deal solely with special needs children, their visits together last longer, and are goal orientated. Aided by the gentle and unconditional love of our highly trained animals, our teams help these students improve physically, socially and emotionally, as well as in the areas of self-regulation and motivation. Our ultimate goal is to improve and strengthen both their skills and their character traits, giving them the added confidence, they need in order to achieve their personal goals.
Each team works with the same child on a regular basis, is directly involved with that child’s other, ongoing therapy, and not only forms a friendship with that child, but also observes that child’s developmental growth.

Some of the Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy
  • Improves fine motor skills
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Improves balance
  • Decreases anxiety, depression and isolation
  • Improves focus, attention and motivation
  • Improves social skills
  • Increases trust, empathy and team work
  • Improves self-control

Pawsitive Friendships’ Animal Assisted Therapy Program
Pawsitive Friendships uses a 1:1 model for Animal Assisted Therapy. The facilities we work with have licensed therapists and/or teachers, who know the children best and are trained to tailor their treatments to meet the specific needs of each special needs child. Since our trained handlers know their animals best, we’ve taken the two and merged them.

Each dog/handler team works with the assigned therapist and/or teacher to help their particular child reach his or her individual goals. Should the child need a break during the combined session, the therapist/teacher can continue working with the child while our team steps back, and vice versa. We believe this 1:1 model is the safest for all parties involved.