Aquarium Exposure for ASD Clients

Christina Lindsay and Cyndy Parker

Christina Lindsay & Cyndy Parker
Human Services, St. Andrews

Christina Lindsay and Cyndy Parker engaged in a project that helped teens with autism connect via the sea. The instructors combined their strengths in education and human services and teamed up with the Dragonfly Centre for Autism and the Huntsman Marine Science Centre to introduce fish therapy to New Brunswick’s autistic youth. The project involved NBCC Human Services students researching current aquarium therapy models underway at other institutions and adapting the program to fit the special needs of our local clients in New Brunswick. The students engaged with professionals in the autism discipline along with families of youth on the autism spectrum to develop a best practice aquarium therapy model. The students took their research and developed a week long camp for youth on the autism spectrum with the Huntsman Aquarium in St. Andrews. This year-long project aimed to determine whether interacting with fish and sea life could help reduce stress and anxiety in autistic youth and help develop their social skills by observing animal behavior.