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Dog-Assisted Occupational Therapy

Dog-Assisted Therapy sessions run across an 8 week block, led by a qualifed Occupational Therapist with the support of a trained Therapy Dog. Find out more today.

New northern hub for Dog-Assisted Therapy program

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We’re pleased to announce a new northern hub for Dog-Assisted Therapy (DAT) which will become operational in Wangara on the back of the success of our program in Victoria Park. Demand for the service has prompted this second hub which opens its doors for the very first time at the end of June.

Just as it sounds, Dog-Assisted Therapy (DAT) has the dog as an integral part of the therapy process. A qualified occupational therapist guides the interaction between a child and the dog to reach specific goals. Children can build their skills across a variety of areas with sessions facilitated by qualified occupational therapists.

Executive Therapy Manager Karen Titherdige explains why this new hub will be so beneficial.

“A dog is a great way to engage children and motivate them than traditional therapy with an occupational therapist. We’ve had lots of enquiries from parents keen for their children to explore Dog-Assisted Therapy who live in the northern suburbs and now they can experience Dog-Assisted Therapy closer to home.”

Statistics from the Australian Government Centre for Population Data from 2020 shows that 40% of NDIS participants aged 0-6 are autistic. This program is well suited to children who are neurodiverse.

“There’s a unique bond that develops between a child and the dog and this can build self-confidence, improve, communication skills and make them feel relaxed. There’s plenty of research that shows therapy dogs have enormous benefits to help children overcome challenges to achieve goals,” explains Karen.

Evidence backed research

There have been numerous research studies exploring the benefits of Dog-Assisted Therapy demonstrating how a dog has a positive impact on a child. Dogs provide unconditional love, companionship and non-judgemental support. The presence of a friendly dog creates a calming and comforting environment.

Autism CRC is the independent Australian source of evidence for best practice in relation to autism. In 2023, it released its Interventions for Children on the Autism Spectrum:  A synthesis of research evidence report (opens in new window) which demonstrates the positive ways animal-assisted interventions support a child’s development.

Support from Channel 7 Telethon Trust

The Channel 7 Telethon Trust has supported the program’s expansion. Telethon is a charitable organisation providing life-changing support for Western Australian children living with disabilities. Financial support from Telethon will fund resources and additional training for therapy dogs in the northern corridor.

Kite’s Children’s Therapy is a sister brand to Guide Dogs WA (opens in new window). This unique partnership means the dogs involved in the program undertake a strict training program so they meet certain expectations. All dogs selected must have qualities  to make them suitable for this therapy and a temperament which means they enjoy human interaction. The dogs are also highly affectionate.

How Kites Dog-Assisted Therapy can support your child

This program is specifically beneficial to children:

  • with sensory-processing difficulties
  • who are hyperactive with inattentive behaviour
  • with high levels of anxiety or stress
  • fearful of dogs
  • support emotional regulation
  • to develop better understanding of body language
  • to be more appreciative of social skills such as turn-taking, listening and waiting
  • promoting self care, including dressing and feeding
  • to improve gross and fine motor skills
  • to support cognitive behaviour to help improve attention, memory and problem-solving skills.

The occupational therapist will work closely with family or caregivers of the child to establish specific goals. If you have any questions about a therapy service through Kites Children’s Therapy, please call: (08) 9311 8222 or email: hello@kitestherapy.org.au


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