By Amanda Slade
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism among children in the United States since 2014 is one in every 68 children, showing a higher occurrence in boys compared to girls. The website also released results from a 2014 National Health review survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics among parents, stating that the prevalence of autism among kids aged 3-17 is one in every 45 children. These are both significant numbers showing the high frequency of the autism diagnosis in the United States alone.
Autism is a condition that belongs to a group of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) characterized by lapses or problems in brain development. These disorders often cause difficulties in a person’s social skills, including the usage of verbal and nonverbal skills, and the management of repetitive behaviors. This means kids diagnosed with this kind of disorder have a generally hard time expressing their thoughts and emotions, learning and playing, and interacting with their surrounding and the people around them.
Dog-Therapy for Autism Treatment
As various external factors and interactions may cause stress and difficulties to persons with autism, many personal experiences backed by scientific studies show the importance of using pets like dogs to help autism patients overcome their social difficulties and become more interactive with their environment. Without doubt, children who suffer from autism tend to experience these social difficulties in a significantly more pronounced manner, given their age.
In dog-therapy, Autism Assistance Dogs are introduced to children to help provide emotional support, companionship and friendship. Dogs act as a form of ‘social catalyst’ to encourage children to be friendlier to each other.
7 Ways Dogs Help Children with Autism
Dogs have proven to help improve the social skills of kids with autism. Children with assistance dogs are more comfortable to initiate interactions with other adults and kids around them.
Trusting a dog teaches them how to build trust while learning about friendship. Although the children themselves may not understand or realize it, having a dog aids them in creating new friendships with other people.
A dog greatly improves an autistic kid’s self-esteem and confidence. It’s not surprise that pets can help boost a child’s self-esteem through the unconditional love and acceptance that they often exhibit. Children often feel at ease with their pets and feel a sense of belonging.
Constantly being with a furry companion promotes play and Interaction with other kids and their surroundings. Dogs are known to improve one’s mood and health, encouraging laughter and play.
Dogs are known to help calm anxiety and behavioral problems. A dog’s peaceful yet playful nature can neutralize any stressful situation. Pet dogs are known to help children learn to regulate their stress levels, equipping them to better overcome the social challenges of autism. A child’s dog can also act as an anchor, a safe place to retreat to during or after an outburst.
Aside from the emotional benefits of assistance dogs, children with autism learn the value of loyalty and caring for another living thing. They are therefore being taught the importance of responsibility without being fully aware it.
Since some autistic children might have repetitive violent or aggressive tendencies towards themselves and others, assistance dogs may be trained to apply a little pressure to stop negative behavior.
Having dogs as friends and companions for children with autism can provide a great deal of help in terms of creating friendships and soothing stress. They don’t just provide entertainment or happiness, they are truly valuable partners in protecting and saving lives.
Amanda is a writer and animal lover who founded popular pet blog, Petsho. Over on Petsho, she covers pet related topics, tips for pet care/health and is known for her in depth reviews on pet products and supplies. As a mom of 3 children (and 2 furry animals), topics such as pets and family are close to heart.