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World's First Animatronic Animal Therapy Program Set to Open
Date:5/26/2009

Animal-assisted & Creative Therapies to help children with special needs

BRADENTON, Fla., May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Animal-assisted & Creative Therapies (ACT) today announced plans to open a new 9-acre facility that will use animatronic animal therapy to assist in the development of children with special needs. Headed by renowned dolphin-assisted therapy researcher Dr. David Nathanson, the program is thought to be the first of its kind in the world. The center is set to open in December 2009.

The new iACT Center is a revamped and improved version of the well-known Dolphin Human Therapy (DHT) program, which, during its 12 years of operation, used live dolphins to provide therapy to more than 4,000 children and adults with special needs from 60 countries. The 9 acre facility on Florida's Gulf Coast will also feature a sensory trail, miniature horses, therapy dogs, art, music and parent training.

iACT will employ a Therapeutic Animatronic Dolphin (TAD) to mimic the reinforcing effects of a live dolphin's interaction with patients.

TAD was built by special effects artists Animal Makers, who have developed life-like animals for films that include Ace Ventura and Pirates of the Caribbean.

"I believe this is the first therapy program in the world to use an animatronic animal to produce measurable improvements in special needs children and adults with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other diagnoses," Dr. Nathanson said.

Dr. Nathanson's research has demonstrated that TAD is as effective as live dolphin-assisted therapy when used as a reward in therapy, increasing attention and motivation and providing a safer, more controlled environment
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SOURCE iACT Center
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