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Mellow Mondays
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Therapy cat Shen, along with his handler Therapy Animals of Utah Director Deborah Carr, volunteer regularly at ScenicView Academy in Provo.

Have you ever felt like your emotions were out of control? Or have you ever wished you could have a little help managing your stress levels?

Help might be just a purr or a lick away.

Therapy animals not only help motivate people to recover physically, but they also provide profound help on an emotional level too. It’s well known that therapy animals help relieve loneliness.However, at ScenicView Academy in Provo, Utah, for adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Therapy Animals of Utah are helping in the classroom too.

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Smokey, a black Cocker Spaniel has been a registered therapy dog with Therapy Animals of Utah for nearly a year. His handler, Joanna, says he loves getting hugs.

No, they might not help with long division or algebra, but during their classroom visits two to four Mondays a month, therapy animals assist with other essential skills like helping students recognize stress and understanding how to cope and de-stress.

 

Shen and Student

Therapy animals are a welcome addition to the classroom.

Therapy Animals of Utah Executive Director Deborah Carr explains, “We know how much our University students love our stress relief events.  Finals time is extremely stressful for them.  Unfortunately, most people with Autism Spectrum Disorder have that kind of stress and anxiety (or worse) almost all the time.  The TAU program at Scenic View is doing some really exciting and innovative work, with the Mellow Monday stress relief program and a series of classes designed to specifically address the needs of the students at that program.”

Smokey and Student

Smokey brings comfort to a student.

Therapy animals create a relaxing environment that promotes comfort, increases verbal communication and eye contact, and decreases severity of ASD symptoms. By interacting with the animals and observing the animals’ behaviors, lessons are learned about identifying emotions and observing how the animals respond. The animals are not only therapists, they’re also teachers, teaching emotional regulation.

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 Therapy dog Lucy, a Standard Poodle, volunteers during Mellow Mondays and other special classes.   Therapy dog Misty, a Portugese Water Dog, travels from Park City with her handlers to volunteer at ScenicView Academy.
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 Therapy animals help create a relaxing environment. Gus is shown here relaxing with a student during a day camp.  TAU Director Deborah Carr and therapy Sheltie Mr. Parker visiting with a student.
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 The animals are so popular that the students have even requested classes on animal care. This young lady stated, “I love being with Smokey. He is my drug of choice. He helps me get rid of my headache and he is better than any medicine.”

 

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