Dolphin Human Therapy & Down Syndrome Abstracts
Anthrozoos 11 (1): 22-32 (1998)

Long term effectiveness of dolphin assisted therapy for children with severe disabilities

Nathanson, D.E.
Dolphins Plus, Key Largo, Florida, and Miami Seaquarium, Miami, Florida.
Long-term effectiveness of dolphin assisted therapy, as practiced by Dolphin Human Therapy, was analyzed via a 15 item closed form, ratio scale parent questionnaire (n = 71). Children with severe disabilities of many etiologies, from 8 countries, received either one or two weeks of therapy in the multidisciplinary, behavior modification program. Results on three clinical issues were analyzed. First, children maintained or improved skills acquired in therapy about 50% of the time even after 12 months away from therapy. Second, no difference in long-term effects occurred as a function of differences in the three categories (genetic, brain damage, unknown causes) of etiology (ANOVA, F (2,39) = 2.79, p > .05). Third, two weeks of therapy produced significantly better long-term results than did one week of therapy (t = 3.105, df = 28. p < .01).
Anthrozoos 10 (2/3): 90-100 (1997)

Effectiveness of short-term dolphin assisted therapy for children with severe disabilities

Nathanson, D.E., de Castro, D., Friend, H., & McMahon. M.
Dolphins Plus, Key Largo, Florida
The effectiveness of two week dolphin-assisted therapy was compared to the effectiveness of six month conventional physical and speech-language therapy. Data were analyzed using a multiple baseline single subject across settings design, for 47 children with severe disabilities (20 females, 27 males), of multiple etiologies. Children were placed in a physical therapy group (n = 17, mean age = 6 years, 8 months) and a speech-language group (n = 30, mean age = 6 years, 5 months). Standardized charting procedures were used to measure acquisition of independent motor and speech-language skills. Use of t tests for non-independent samples indicates that relative to conventional long-term therapy, dolphin-assisted therapy, as practiced by Dolphin Human Therapy, achieves positive results more quickly and is also more cost effective.
Anthrozoos 6 (1): 17-29 (1993)

Cognitive improvement of children in water with and without dolphins

Nathanson, D.E. & de Faria, S.
Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key, Florida
Orienting nonverbal responses and verbal responses of eight children with mental disabilities interacting in water with dolphins and in water with favorite toys away from dolphins were recorded and analyzed on videotape. Significant improvements in hierarchical cognitive responses occurred when interaction with dolphins was used as reinforcement compared with improvements made when the reinforcement used was a favorite toy. Water work with dolphins evoked a greater number of and higher level responses than without dolphins.
Clinical and Abnormal Psychology (P. Lovibond & P. Wilson, Eds.) 233-242, 1989: North Holland: Elsevier.

Using Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to increase cognition of mentally retarded children

Nathanson, D.E.
Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key, Florida
Atlantic bottlenose dolphins were used to help increase cognition for mentally retarded boys (three with Down syndrome; one with hydrocephaly, one with brain damage due to meningitis: one with a rare genetic anomaly) were taught new vocabulary words through interaction with dolphins. Novelty, prior learning, order and position effects were all controlled. Multiple baseline across subjects single single subject research design was used to assess the effect of interaction with dolphins on speech and memory. Line drawings were presented on boards in treatment in the water by humans and dolphins and in baseline in a classroom away from the dolphins. All research was videotaped. Results indicated children learned two to ten times faster and with greater retention when working with dolphins. Benefits include new evidence of the efficacy of using nonhuman species to help humans improve cognition.
Congress proceedings of the XVI World Assembly of the World Organization for Preschool Education 447-51 (1980)

Dolphins and Kids: A communication experiment

Nathanson, D.E.
Ocean World, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Research subjects: Two children with Down syndrome. Question investigated: Can interaction (from poolside) with dolphins increase attention span and language skills for disabled children more than conventional methods? Results: The non-verbal boy was four times as likely to properly respond to the dolphin as he was to respond to his mother, while the verbal girl remembered 13% more vocabulary words when she worked with the dolphin. Dolphins, as intelligent, social, marine mammals are able to increase attention to a task for retarded children. The potential for future dolphin research includes more complex learning tasks with other types of handicapped children, including placing children in the water with the dolphins.
Revised: January 22, 2002.