Studies have been claiming that swimming with dolphins is therapeutic and beneficial for kids with ADHD, autism, and physical disabilities. Most of these studies supporting the effectiveness of dolphin-assisted therapy have been found to be loaded with notable methodological concerns that make it quite impossible to arrive at valid conclusions.
Claims Versus Evidence on DAT
The combination of the glaring absence of successful treatment options from a doctor and a genuine feeling of desperation can lead parents to pursue therapies, interventions, and treatments with scant or no empirical backing. They are showing relatively heightened interest in animal-based therapies.
Though the rate of animal-facilitated treatments has exploded in the last few years, the number of research studies demonstrating the efficacy of dolphin-assisted therapy has not. Betsy Johnson was one of the first to discover therapeutic benefits for people with a neurological condition. Although the beauty and grace of dolphins with their responsiveness to people have led both researchers and therapists to see potential therapeutic benefits, this interest has evolved recklessly into a treatment called dolphin-assisted therapy (DAT)
According to Lilienfeld and Marino, the facilities’ claims supporting DAT have not been confirmed and proven scientifically, and there has been no newly published peer-reviewed papers. Parents of ASD-diagnosed children must beware that there exists to evidence-based support for this kind of treatment. And, studies which are held up supporting DAT have major methodological problems that render their results meaningless and weak.
Overview of DAT
DAT is a kind of animal-assisted therapy which claims to benefit those who are mentally and physically ill and disabled. Therapy usually involves patients swimming and playing with dolphins over many sessions while working at improving verbal responses and hand-eye coordination. According to Nathanson, the main objective of the DAT is to boost engagement and address behaviors based on the kid’s customized program by utilizing dolphins to compliment.
There are several variations of DAT that ranges from the patient just gazing at or caring for a dolphin, actually touching a dolphin, to swimming with a dolphin. Many therapists differed widely in their theories on the interaction of both dolphins and humans for each patient. The frequency and duration of sessions vary, some programs running for one week, two weeks, or one month. Some programs have attempted single sessions that last a few hours. Humphries learned that in five out of six studies that she evaluated, sessions lasted 30 minutes each on average and each study consisted of about a total of 16 sessions.
The general price for only five 40-minute sessions is approximately $2,600. Are you really willing to pay this much for a therapy that has no evidence that proves its effectiveness?