Temple Grandin takes time to meet Lois and Buttercup at a conference on Autism in the Monterey area.
Welcome to ProActive Speech
I am part of a group of professionals located in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have been providing Speech Language, Occupational and Adaptive Physical Education therapies to the special needs community for the past two decades. In the past few years I've used, when appropriate, the assistance of animals to support and enhance standard evidence based practices. I've found it enhances the development of the skills needed by a child/adult to achieve their individual goals.
But thatís not all, with the advent of technology such as Appleís iPad, iTouch and the iPhone Iíve been able to take speech therapy to a new level. Combining this hardware with software/apps like Proloquo2G0 has allowed me to tap the curiosity and the surprisingly innate ability the special needs population has utilizing technology. Alas, they too can be cool.
I started using the itouch as a positive reinforcement (a reward) tool for completing a task; it was such a motivator, it wasnít long before I started devising complete therapy sessions integrating the itouch and now the ipad, which I have come to call itherapy.
My kids have made resounding strides towards meeting their goals. Many have surpassed expectations; kids who have never spoken are saying full sentences. Parents are thrilled!
The few who do not respond to technology almost always have a positive response to our animals. Specially Buttercup, our potbelly pig.
So...what is Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)?
The formal definition of Animal-Assisted Therapy:
"AAT is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. AAT is directed and/or delivered by a health/human service professional with specialized expertise, and within the scope of practice of his/her profession. AAT is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning [cognitive functioning refers to thinking and intellectual skills]. AAT is provided in a variety of settings and may be group or individual in nature. This process is documented and evaluated." (From Standards of Practice for Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy)
to empower the special needs children and youth by utilizing the natural human-animal bond and other emerging modalities that incorporate the latest technologies. Providing a non-judgmental, morale building experience that enables them to achieve their full potential; creating confident, self-sufficient and independent individuals.
Giving individuals the ability to interact in their environment effectively is essential to a productive, happy life.
To that end, we continue to hone our skills by staying current with cutting-edge research, and in turn, we are able to implement the most effective therapies that are tailored specifically for each individual.