Animals and Autism: The Benefits of Having Pets

Who doesn’t love petting a fluffy pup? You may have personally experienced the calming advantages of owning or enjoying a pet in your home. Did you know that there are certain animals that can actually be positive in the life of a child with ASD?

Purdue University’s Study

Studies have shown that animals can actually help to improve the social skills of individuals with ASD. For example, a study completed by Purdue University’s Marguerite O’Haire and her colleagues monitored the impact of Guinea pigs in classrooms. The research team discovered that children with ASD showed improved social skills after spending time interacting with Guinea pigs for several months.

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The same research team discovered that children are more likely to laugh, talk, and smile, as opposed to crying, whining, frowning in the presence of Guinea pigs. This new study looked into how biological processes were impacted when children with ASD interacted with Guinea pigs. The research has shed light upon the calming effect that Guinea pigs had on the children within the study.

Benefits of Animals on Individuals with ASD

Similar to the results found in the study by Purdue University’s O’Haire, there have been numerous studies that have indicated the positive effects that various types of animals can have on lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, decreasing stress, and increasing the amount of exercise that individuals get.

Additional benefits to exposing your child with ASD to animals include:

Loving Pets: An Emotional Bond

Many parents have found that they can identify clear benefits from their children’s experience bonding with animals. Aside from the emotional support, the friendship that a child can develop with a “nonverbal” and “judgment free” companion can positively impact the emotional development of a child. Parents of children with autism have often cited pets as having a positive effect on their children by lowering their incidents of depression or loneliness. Additionally, animals can be the foundation for new experiences for your child to enjoy, which can create new learning opportunities for your child.

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Animal Assisted Therapy for Individuals with ASD

Children and adults with ASD typically are more successful in a household with structure. If you are able to use animal-assisted therapy to support the developmental growth of your child, you may see emotional benefits in your child’s life. For some children, this can be as simple as bringing a cat into the home, or as structured as offering horseback riding to your child with ASD. This type of interaction can help children with ASD to develop their coordination, strength, and emotional skills.

How do incorporate animal-assisted therapy in your child’s life? The first step is to speak with your child’s behavioral therapist to make sure that this type of assisted therapy is right for him/her. If you’re curious about ABA therapy, read our article, “ABA Treatment: We Help You, Help Your Kid.”

At Hidden Treasures ABA Therapy Services, our team of specialists is here for you. Whether you are seeking information about advocating for your loved one, or you are looking for support and therapy services for your child with ASD, you can contact our team TODAY.

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