Study Finds Dogs Benefit Children With Autism
Children with Autism Benefit From Having a Trained Service Dog
Researchers at University College Cork (UCC) have said they can prove that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) benefit from having a dog, especially at a young age.
Dr. Louise Burgoyne of the UCC Department of Epidemiology and Public Health said they have proven what has been has been long assumed anecdotally. “It is an anecdotally established fact, and there had been quite a bit of qualitative research done, but when the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind were chatting to us they said ‘we hear this all the time but it is never measured’ — so we measured it,” she said.
Studies Find That Dogs Benefit Children With Autism
The first study analyzed the responses from 80 parents who have a dog and 84 of those on the waiting list for a service dog. The questionnaire focused on the benefits of having a service dog in the household. Specific questions were related safety of children who had a dog, public awareness & acceptance of ASD, and the levels of strain on caregivers. They found that having a service dog improved the quality of life for everyone in the home.
The service dogs who work with children with ASD keep them safe from environmental hazards. At the same time the dogs are useful at creating a calming and reassuring presence between these children and society. It helps bring autism into the open and parents said they find the public perception of children with ASD is better with a dog.
In a study by PLOS released in February of 2016 researchers found that trained assistance dogs help increase child safety, outdoor access, and can lead to enhanced communication and social interaction. When they compared children with service dogs to those without they found significant positive differences in the children’s adaptability, social skills and conflict management techniques.
These findings were partly supported by parents’ responses on standardised scales including, the Social Skills Rating Scale—which showed that children with a dog had significantly greater social skills than children without a dog. – What Factors Are Associated with Positive Effects of Dog Ownership in Families with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Plos One
There is great hope that studies such as these one will increase funding for families who wish to obtain a specialized service dog for their child. These service dogs benefit children and make it much easier for them to engage in everyday activities.