As parents, we constantly look for ways to help our children improve their quality of life. If your child has autism, this may be harder. But a recent study has shown that pets reduce stress in children on the spectrum.
Previous research has suggested that children with autism, who also have a pet starting at a young age, tend to have better social skills. Other research describes how children on the spectrum have better behavioral function temporarily after simply playing with a live animal for a short amount of time. This new study “provides physiological evidence that the proximity of animals eases the stress that children with autism may experience in social situations,” according to James Griffin of the National Institute of Child Health and Development.
The study, published by the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, found that children with autism responded exceptionally well to being around dogs, with 94% of dog-owning families saying that their child bonded strongly with their pet. Additionally, several studies done by Autism Speaks Community Grants have found equine-therapy programs to be successful for children with autism.
While the children in this study exhibited a distinct drop in anxiety and social stress when playing with animals, the author of the study encourages parents to take care when considering adding a pet to the family. You may think that a dog, which can provide unconditional love and companionship, may be the best choice, but your child may not agree. A child with noise sensitivity or who gets easily agitated may have a hard time with a very energetic or heavily barking dog.
Consider getting a pet to improve the life of your child with autism. You may help them develop better in social settings and decrease their stress levels.
Debra Solomon, founder of Spectrum Strategies sees the strengths in each and every individual with Asperger’s syndrome and Autism. Debra is focused on training young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with Asperger’s to accomplish life and career goals, no matter how big or small. She believes that through determination and commitment, every client has the ability to live life to the fullest potential. Call (516) 822-3150 for your one on one and let’s get you reaching for the stars!