It is well known that contact with animals may benefit humans in a number of ways. In our pilot project we arranged weekly contacts of ten multiply-disabled adults (all deaf, four women and six men, aged 18-45) with well human-socialised goats. This is part of an effort to team up residential institutions for disabled clients with suitable farms. Over a period of three months, clients were video-taped when in contact with goats, one hour per week, 11 weeks in a row. In parallel, clients were videotaped in a dining room situation. This was done with the consent of clients and with support of the residential institution in Upper Austria. From these tapes, a number of parameters were coded for each client covering behaviour, communication and mood. Over time, attentiveness, active participation in the programme, and expression of joy increased, whereas withdrawal decreased in contact with the goats. In contrast, no changes were recorded in the dining room situation. Only in the goat situation, the population variance of most significant parameters decreased indicating an increasing homogeneity of the clients' behaviour over the weeks. We conclude that regular animal contact had contributed to the wellbeing of multiply-disabled clients, and had a sustained effect on their behaviour when with the goats, but did not lead to a measurable behavioural change of clients in other situations. Adapted from the source document.
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