Dogs help all family members dealing with autism

Jun 02, 2011
Tagged with:

One more reason to get a dog: furry four-legged friends can help both parents of / and children with autism.

They say a dog is man’s best friend, but new research indicates that having a dog can help reduce stress in parents of children who have autism. A dog can also help a child with autism in many ways like getting dressed, trying new foods with different textures, and even going outside.

In the UK, the University of Lincoln studied 40 families with autistic children: 20 families with dogs and 20 families without man’s best furry bud. Then during a three-day Parents’ Austism Workshop and Support conference, the researchers presented their findings.

Daniel Mills, a veterinary behavioral medicine professor, said early results suggest any breed of dog can improve communication and relationships. “While there is no shortage of opinion on how dogs can help, there has been little money given to scientifically look into this.” As the video below shows, dogs can improve eating, sleeping and tantrum behavior in kids with autism.

The little boy’s mother listed out ways that Boogie, an 18-month King-Charles-cocker-spaniel cross, is helping her four-year-old son Oak. BBC reported the little boy’s mom stated, “Oak has particular problems with stepping out the front door. To him, it is like he is stepping off a cliff. So we have started to use Boogie to help Oak with transitions, from going from one situation to another. It is reassurance. He thinks that if Boogie can do it, then he can do it.”

She added, “Oak’s verbal skills are better. He is eating different textured foods as he feeds Boogie different foods. We do a lot of grooming with Boogie, so Oak is learning about self-care and hygiene. In the last four months Oak has excelled himself – he keeps surprising us everyday.”

Peter Gorbing from Dogs for the Disabled charity pointed out that dogs are both low-cost and low-tech. The charity has used dogs in the past as detectors to help “sniff out” bladder, bowel and prostate cancer. Recently the first “alert dog” has started helping a young girl with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. Although this study is in early stages, Gorbing said, “We are hopeful. If successful, this dog could change the girl’s life.”

Image credit: Pacdog

Author: Tessa