Dolphin Assisted Therapy / Dolphin Teraphy (For Children)
Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT) is a supportive alternative therapy mostly effective for children 3 – 16 years old. Scientific studies have shown that DAT is beneficial for children with following disorders:
– Pervasive Development Disorders (PDD): Autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger Syndrome
– Down Syndrome
– Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (a disorder developed in children which were subjected to various psychological traumas, such as loss of the care-givers, sexual abuse, violence, and the like)
– Speaking difficulties
– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
– Attention Deficiency & Hyperactivity Disorder
– Cerebral Palsy / Spasticity
– Involuntary movements and spasms
There are few contradictions (in terms of safety and health issues) for participating in DAT.
These contradictions are as follows:
– The presence or history of epilepsy
– Contagious diseases
– The presence of any health problems which could be negatively effected by swimming in the water of 24-26 C temperature. DAT is run under supervision of professional dolphin trainer, DAT therapist / psychological counselor. The therapy course is designed individually for each child. In order to achieve optimum effects and to fix them, the specialists recommend a 10-session course to start with. However, the number of sessions may be increased or decreased in accordance with child’s response to the therapy.
How Does Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT) Work?
DAT can bring out both physiological and psychological positive effects. So in a way it can be regarded both as physical therapy and psychotherapy.
Physiological effects of DAT can be summarized as follows:
Ultra-sonic effect: According to scientific researches, the sound of high frequency which is produced by dolphins’ communication device called “sonar” triggers a healing bodily response in patients who participate in DAT. This response was called “sonophoresis”. It was established that sonophoresis produces a pain-killer effect (especially in CP patients), and also stabilizes the frequency of alpha-waves (electro-magnetic waves produced by human brain). The latter effect increases production of endorphins, and endorphins are responsible for improving immune system, learning skills, memory and sleeping patterns.
Reflexology effect: By touching bio-active areas located on patient’s hands and feet which are associated with different parts of human body the dolphin stimulates nervous system and causes healing effect in the problem areas.Electro-magnetic effect:
It was suggested by the researches that the low-frequency electro-magnetic waves produced by the dolphin positively stimulates human pineal gland. This stimulation naturally increases the concentration of ACTH molecules in the brain. The scientific studies have shown that an external supply of synthetic ACTH improves social communication in autistic children. ACTH also contributes to regeneration of neurons, which, together with increase in endorphin production mentioned above, stimulate the development of child’s judgment and communication skills.
Acoustic vibration and hydro-massage effect: the sounds the dolphin produces (those that are within the range of hearing and ultrasonic) create acoustic vibration in the water; and this vibration speeds up the circulation of blood as well as of lymph. This in turn provides a better feeding to all cells of human body and triggers their development. When directed to the body of a child, the water waves that are created by dolphin’s tail and flippers have a hydro-massage effect.
In addition to physiological effects mentioned above, DAT has strong psychotherapeutic effect. This effect is brought out by child’s direct interaction with the dolphin in a series of play exercises.
The positive developments associated with DAT in psychological realm can be summarized as follows:
Emotional development:Due to dolphin’s inborn curiosity and friendly approach the communication between the animal and child is built very easily. The positive nature of such communication helps the child to develop emotionally.
Cognitive development:The special exercises which are done in form of play together with the dolphin are designed to enhance the child’s learning skills and concentration; they help the child to focus on task accomplishment..Adjustment and positive behavior development:
For each child the therapy program is developed in accordance with individual needs and priorities, and is supervised by psychological counselor. Dolphin’s positive approach adds the rewarding component to professionally developed exercises program, so that the child’s positive behavior and adjustment to DAT’s routines is naturally encouraged.
Self-confidence development: With dolphin’s support the child accomplish various tasks during DAT sessions, and by observing the successful result, the child develops the sense of self-confidence.