General, Research, Technology

Pets Help Autistic Children Develop Self-Confidence

A pet can significantly increasesocial interaction of children with autism. If in previous studies the emphasis was on dogs, a new study showed that any pet has a positive effect on the child.

Child and dog

Scientists say that a pet is a huge advantage in treating autistic children.

A comparison showed that children with autism in the homewhich the dog lives have better social skills than those who do not have a pet. But more importantly, any pet has a positive effect on the child’s behavior - he is more willing to contact people and answer their questions, ”says Dr. Gretchen Carlisle, a research fellow at the Research Center for human- animal interaction, ReCHAI) University of Missouri College of Veterinary.

Typically, these social skills are difficult for autistic children to learn, but research has shown that pets helped them develop self-confidence.

The presence of animals in the home or classroom contributes to a more active communication of healthy children with each other. The same applies to people with autism.

According to Carlisle, when healthy children see “special” children on the street, accompanied by a pet, they stop, and communication begins between the children.

Autistic children are not always easyinteract with other people, but if there is a pet in the house to which the child is attached, then the visitor who starts the conversation about the pet will most likely receive an answer, the researcher says.

Scientists also noticed this connection: the longer a dog lives in a family, the better social skills are developed in children. With age, however, this relationship weakens. Children with limited communicative abilities also become more attached to small dogs. Cats and rabbits are also suitable as a pet for such children.

Dr. Carlisle examined 70 families withautistic children aged 8 to 18 years. Almost 70 percent of the families had dogs, almost 50 percent had cats. Some families kept fish, rodents, rabbits, reptiles, birds, and in one even lived a spider.

The study was published in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

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