Pet Power

We’re all aware of how service animals help the physically impaired, but an interesting new study reports on the significance of introducing a pet into the home of an autistic child.

“Researchers … interviewed the individuals’ parents about the presence of any pets in their homes and, where animals were present, asked about the relationship between the person with autism and the pet.  While no change was seen for individuals without pets or those who had pets since birth, acquiring a new animal appeared to increase the likelihood of sharing and comforting parents or peers, two so-called prosocial behaviors.” 

The study acknowledges that the reason for the improvements is not entirely clear and more research is needed.  The full article  is made especially interesting by the Comments, several of which were made by people actually on the spectrum, offering their own experience and perspective.

Another article out of Pennsylvania tells how a young girl, born with a rare condition in which the brain fails to develop normally, has “blossomed” due her recently acquired service dog.

••• Please share your family’s experience with animals and their effect on your child with special needs … this could include any kind of pet or other animal, horses for instance. 

One Response to “Pet Power”

  1. Susan Greer Susan Greer

    My daughter begged for a dog for a couple of years. I had hoped it would fill a need for her, but alas it proved a great disappointment. She struggles with autism and a mild intellectual disability. She seemed to feel that the dog should be able to understand her when she talked to him. He quickly became gun-shy of her after having his ears pulled. She felt he was hurting her feelings on purpose. Nothing we said could make her understand. On rare occasions they have positive interactions. I suspect my expectations were too high. Maybe I watched one too many episodes of Lassie when I was a kid. But, we love the dog anyway and her needs were met in other ways.