Animal Assisted Therapy Program
Di-Di (Thai for "good-good") is a rescue dog from central Illinois. She is known for her calm temperament and strong love of young children. She is very affectionate and highly attentive to others' emotional states and communicative signals. She is responsive to a range of hand signals and verbal commands.
Children learn appropriate boundaries with the therapy animal. They also learn to read the animal's non-verbal cues. Seeing the cues in another can often help children relate to the cues in themselves. Children learn to initiate simple commands to affect the animal's behavior. They also learn to use the animal as a source of regulation.
Children with communication difficulties often find comfort in a companion animal that communicates non-verbally. Emphasis on the animal's non-verbal cues can help sensitize a child to similar cues in humans. In addition, the presence of a calm animal can regulate a child during episodes of emotional distress.