Many studies have reported pets can provide various benefits to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Research has found people with autism who had a pet from a young age often had greater social skills. Plus, they are more likely to develop a strong bond with a canine at a quick rate.
If your child has received an ASD diagnosis, you might wonder if a pooch could help your child daily. Find out how dogs can benefit children with autism.
Making friends is challenging for many children and adults with ASD. Despite wanting to make friends and be social, some young people on the spectrum might take time to develop friendships and social skills.
However, a dog will provide unconditional love and attention, which will help them develop a strong bond. After all, a child doesn’t need to worry about following social cues or facial expressions when interacting with a dog. Therefore, a pooch will provide a child with a friend and prevent loneliness.
Children with ASD can struggle with attention and may adopt negative behaviors or habits. However, a dog could grab their attention and provide them with something to care for each day. Therefore, caring for a dog could improve a young person’s focus and turn their attention away from a negative habit or action.
A dog could help a child when experiencing a meltdown. They can often sense negative emotions and provide a young person with more love, which will lower their stress levels. They might help a child calm down by licking them, giving attention, or leaning against a child to offer emotional support. This sense is also much stronger in trained autism therapy dogs.
Children with autism may experience increased confidence with a dog by their side. For example, they might be more likely to spend time outdoors, play with other kids, or stand or sit still.
Caring for a dog’s needs might also build their self-confidence. For this reason, you should encourage your son or daughter to feed a pet, play with them in their spare time, or take them along to easyvet for exams, vaccines, dental exams, and more to care for their health.
It is common for children with ASD to experience delayed speech, or they might be nonverbal or selectively mute. However, various studies have found that children might increase their speech when in their dog’s presence. The research has even found that some non-verbal children will increase vocalizations.
Choose the Right Dog
If you are considering welcoming a dog into your home to provide a child with ASD with companionship, love, and support, you must select the right pet. When choosing a canine, you must look for a dog with a gentle disposition, a people-oriented nature, and intelligence to support training.
Great options include:
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Golden Retrievers
- Great Danes
- Old English Sheepdogs
Welcoming a dog into the family could help your child enjoy more unconditional love, emotional support, and improved speech and social interactions. Plus, it could help your son or daughter grow in confidence and experience fewer meltdowns.
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