National Pet & Autism Month – Wait Until You See This Video!
Pets Help Kids With Autism with Social Skills
April is Autism Awareness Month, now more commonly being called Autism Acceptance Month
April is Autism and Pet Month. This is exactly what I want to let people know about. Helping people and pets has always been my objective. I hope this helps you!
According to Science Daily,children with autism who live with pets are more assertive. Dogs and other pets play an important role in individuals’ social lives, and they can act as catalysts for social interaction, previous research has shown. Although much media attention has focused on how dogs can improve the social skills of children with autism, a researcher recently found that children with autism have stronger social skills when any kind of pet lived in the home.
“When I compared the social skills of children with autism who lived with dogs to those who did not, the children with dogs appeared to have greater social skills,” said Gretchen Carlisle, research fellow at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.
“More significantly, however, the data revealed that children with any kind of pet in the home reported being more likely to engage in behaviors such as introducing themselves, asking for information or responding to other people’s questions. These kinds of social skills typically are difficult for kids with autism, but this study showed children’s assertiveness was greater if they lived with a pet.”
Pets often serve as “social lubricants,” Carlisle said. When pets are present in social settings or a classroom, children talk and engage more with one another. This effect also seems to apply to children with autism and could account for their increased assertiveness when the children are living in a home with pets, Carlisle said.
Kids with autism don’t always readily engage with others, but if there’s a pet in the home that the child is bonded with and a visitor starts asking about the pet, the child may be more likely to respond. And that would be so awesome!
Carlisle also found that children’s social skills increased the longer a family had owned a dog, yet older children rated their relationships with their dogs as weaker. When children were asked, they reported the strongest attachments to smaller dogs, Carlisle found.
Carlisle surveyed 70 families who had children with autism between the ages of 8 and 18.The children were patients at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
Almost 70 percent of the families that participated had dogs, and about half of the families had cats. Other pets owned by participants included fish, farm animals, rodents, rabbits, reptiles, a bird and even one spider.
“Dogs are good for some kids with autism but might not be the best option for every child,” Carlisle said. “Kids with autism are highly individual and unique, so some other animals may provide just as much benefit as dogs.”
“Though parents may assume having dogs are best to help their children, my data shows greater social skills for children with autism who live in homes with any type of pet.”
So having a pet in the home is a great way to help kids who are more comfortable in their natural environments.
Like macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, pets and kids belong together. So, even if a therapy dog is not in your future, take heart and know that you can use whatever pets you like best—rabbits, horses, parrots, ferrets, mice, dogs, cats, snakes, turtles, fish, or anything in-between—to help your child with autism navigate the world a bit more easily.
According to Lydia Wayman, 28, is an autistic writer, speaker, and advocate with a B.S. in elementary education and a M.A. in English, “Don’t ask if your child can do something—ask how he or she can do it. Find the bridge (support, skill) that will span the gap between now and the goal. Some goals seem impossible, but the surest way to keep it out of reach is if the adults give up. The child who grows up asking ‘how can I?’ learns to see challenges as a chance for creativity and growth. He or she will say: ‘I can and I will—watch me!'”
Find as many autistic people as you can and read their blogs, advice I saw. Go hear them speak, read their books, listen to them on YouTube, go to conferences created by autistic people.
To understand this you should watch this documentary. It shows the child and the parents and how they tried to help him!
I truly hope this helps people. My goal here on my blog has always been to help people and pets. I have another post about understanding Autism.
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. The original item was written by Fran Webber. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.