Swimming with the Dolphins is Therapeutic for Children with Down Syndrome

I often go to the Delfiniti Dolphinarium in Ixtapa to write and to meditate.  The environment there is so peaceful.  I usually go early in the morning to watch the dolphins trai n with their handlers.

On separate occasions, I encountered parents with their childern who had come early to participate in the dolphinarium’s Animal Assisted Training (AAT) Program for Down Syndrome.  I was completely amazed by what I saw as the patient, the dolphin and the therapist interacted in a sort of choreographed symphony of communication.  The child would touch and press his ear to the dolphin and it responded by moving its body into the best position for the child’s access.  Amazing!

I’m no expert, but obviously something goes on between the patient and the animal, so I decided to do some research. I began by talking with the parents of the young people who had Down Syndrome. The parents were grateful for the Animal Assisted Therapy program developed at Delfiniti and thought it benefited their children.

What exactly is Down Syndrome?  It is a chromosomal condition caused by an extra copy of genetic material on the 21st chromosome. The incidence of D.S. is estimated at 1 per 733 births and is statistically more common with children born of older parents.

Animal Assisted Therapy has been around for a long time and involves using a variety of animals to help patients with different medical problems.  In the case of Down Syndrome, scientists have no research to confirm that swimming with the dolphins works.

Even if there is no scientific proof that swimming with dolphins works for Down Syndrome patients, I know what I saw, and most importantly, I heard what the mothers had to say.  Each emphatically proclaimed that her child’s communication skills have improved since they started swimming with the dolphins.  How wonderful!

By: William H. Tucker, Publisher

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