Dolphins are some of the most charming, charismatic and entertaining animals in the ocean. Adding to their mystique, they have gained a reputation for their supposed healing powers over the last couple of decades.
Facilities scattered around the world offer various forms of dolphin-assisted therapy for people with mental and physical ailments. Essentially, it's an expensive opportunity to swim with dolphins.
Parents of children with severe autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or other disabilities spend thousands of dollars on such dolphin-based treatments in hopes that the animals can reach their kids in ways that psychiatrists, physical therapists or medications never could.
One destination for dolphin-based treatment is Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, Fla. The center has six Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in a penned-in canal connected to the ocean. (According to the website, the dolphins' personalities run the gamut from "tomboy" to "Gucci girl.") The center also has a staff that includes a social worker and three special education teachers, along with speech therapists and other specialists who visit from time to time.
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