"Dr. Thomas Zane is a professor of education and director of the Applied Behavior Analysis Online Program at the Van Loan Graduate School of Endicott College. He is a licensed psychologist in New York and Massachusetts. Dr. Zane has published in various journals and books, presented at regional, national, and international conferences, and been an invited lecturer in Ireland and the Republic of China. His research interests include teacher training, staff development, and evidenced-based practice in autism. As part of his duties at Endicott College, he offers a BCBA certificate program through distance learning.Animals have long been used to provide unique services for individuals who need specialized assistance in some way. For example, Seeing Eye dogs are trained to provide assistance to persons with visual impairments to negotiate the physical environment. In addition to providing such basic services as security and protection, animals have been used to provide emotional and psychological comfort and support to people (e.g., Hall & Malpus, 2000). In fact, it has been experimentally shown that social interactions can increase simply by being in the presence of a dog (McNicholas & Collis, 2000).
The increasing incidence of autism spectrum disorders has resulted in an increase in therapies designed to treat this condition. A recent development has been the training of dogs to specialize in working with persons with autism spectrum disorders. Proponents of “autism dogs” assert that these dogs can support the unique challenges of persons on the spectrum. This article reviews the current knowledge and research in this area." Read More