Monday, August 20, 2012

Dolphin Tale & Monkey Shines: Animal Assisted Therapy for Special Needs People

Dolphin Tale  has a very interesting story, based on real events. I recommend it. Monkey Shines is just for adults.

I. Read the information taken from the informative site Then explain it to a partner, using your own words.

Kids and animals are a natural combination. Pets are great companions, and they teach the value of responsibility to children. For children with disabilities, this companionship is particularly invaluable, as they may have trouble making friends with kids their own ages because of low self-esteem. Animals give children an opportunity to connect with another living being, which is extremely important to any child's development. Animal Assisted Therapy provides an experience with an animal that is non-judgmental, gives affection unconditionally, and provides opportunities for physical and emotional therapy. This includes therapy for strengthening muscles through horseback riding, low-impact swimming with dolphins, and a boost of confidence with service dogs and companion dogs. These animals promote confidence and self-esteem while motivating kids to interact and get stronger. 

II. Discuss these questions.

1. Do you agree with this article? Why (not)?

2. Do you know anyone who has gone through this kind of therapy? Would you use it as a resource for your own child (or yourself)?

3. In which cases would it be helpful?

4. What kinds of animals would you think might help humans in overcoming their troubles?

5. Are dogs helpful for lonely (elderly, children) people? Why?

III. Student 1 reads the information on this great site:

Read about Dolphin Therapy Student 2 reads the information on this site:

Read about Equine Therapy Student 1 and Student 2 share what they read and find out what both therapies have in common and their differences.

IV. Watch the movie segment from the movie Dolphin Tale and answer the questions:


1. The scenes shown are real. Describe what you saw.

2. What kind of people joined this therapy?

3. What is so special about this dolphin? Why did they choose this specific dolphin to help those people?

4. What do the dolphin and patients have in common?

5. How effective do you think this therapy is?

6. Would you recommend it? Why (not)?

7. Do you agree with this affirmation? Explain it.

Controversy surrounds the practice of animal assisted therapy, particularly in circles concerned with animal maltreatment and abuse. Some of these groups see no scientific evidence that animal assisted therapy works positive results in humans and go further to describe ill effects this practice has/may have on animals, specifically to make them irritable and dangerous and an outrageous expense attached to these programs.


 Watch the segment from the movie Monkey Shines and discuss the questions.


1. How does the monkey assist the patient?

2. What about emotionally?

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of such help?

4.  How effective is having a monkey pet assist handicapped patients?

5. Spoiler: This therapy does not end well. Speculate about the possibilities of what could go wrong.