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Title:“When do I get to see the dog?”: The communicative environment during animal assisted speech therapy sessions for adults with acquired cognitive-communicative disorders
Author(s):Sherrill, Martha H.
Director of Research:Hengst, Julie A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hengst, Julie A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Mudar, Raksha; Desmond, Jane; Prior, Paul
Department / Program:Speech & Hearing Science
Discipline:Speech & Hearing Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Acquired cognitive-communicative disorders, Animal Assisted Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology
Abstract:This is a mixed methods study of an established Therapy Dog Program in a sub-acute rehabilitation hospital that examined the communicative space created when a therapy dog is part of a Speech Therapy (ST) session for persons with acquired cognitive-communicative disorders. Grounded in the theoretical framework of distributed communication (Hengst, 2015) and supported by multi-disciplinary research on the impact of rich and complex communicative environments, this project was designed to study Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) as an activity that (while rarely used in the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders) is highly reflective of the responsibilities, preferences, and personal lives of patients (i.e. pet ownership and interaction with animals). This study draws on ethnographic methods of data collection (e.g., video-taped observations, interviews, collections of artifacts) and a participatory action research (PAR) component utilized to trace the process of program development to meet individual departmental and clinician-specific goals. Ten primary participants and fourteen secondary participants were recruited across 10 total weeks of data collection, and data sources included interviews, video-recorded observations of Animal-Assisted Speech Therapy sessions and Traditional Speech Therapy sessions, and clinical program planning sessions. This study has multiple goals: 1) to explore the institutional context of the Therapy Dog Program at Carle Foundation Hospital (CFH), 2) to describe the language resources used by all participants in an Animal-Assisted ST session and to compare those patterns to a Traditional ST session, and 3) to trace the process and progress made by SLPs towards increasing their personal goals of independence, skill, and productive use of AAT to meet varied cognitive-communicative goals. Results show that AAT sessions were complex, flexible, high quality communicative spaces in which varied resource use was employed by all group members to align to others in the communicative space and to contribute through multiple participation roles. Further discussion and exploration of AAT stands to contribute to the larger discussion of environmental enrichment and language interventions provided in rich communicative environments in the field of aphasiology, rehabilitation science, and adult-neurogenic communication disorders at large.
Issue Date:2018-11-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Martha Sherrill
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-02-07
Date Deposited:2018-12

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