Why children with autism can relate well to autism dogs
Autism is a complex condition. Many children who suffer from it find it difficult to communicate verbally, are scared of any changes to their daily routine and can display inexplicable responses to the challenges of everyday life.
Experts have discovered that pets often can communicate better with autistic children than humans do – but just what is the connection?
The world can be a frightening place
There are many aspects of the autistic spectrum that scientists don’t understand. Because so many of these children have communication difficulties, many studies are long term and are based on observations over many months and even years.
The positive news is that pets can help those with confidence problems and can help children who are not aware of danger or personal safety. A pet will never criticise a child or show impatience and scientists believe that this can prove to be hugely beneficial for a child on the autism spectrum.
Four legs can be better than two
A recent study carried out by the University of Missouri demonstrated that “children with autism may especially benefit from interacting with dogs, which can provide unconditional, non-judgemental love and companionship.”
Another scientist, Dr Eugene Arnold, put forward the theory that pets may communicate better with children with autism than humans because “a child with autism doesn’t have good language skills, dogs communicate very well without language.”
It’s a frightening world when you can’t understand any of the basic social and communication skills but if you’re able to communicate with a pet then that can be rewarding and help boost your confidence.
Science often differs
The field of science and intellectual debate is always full of conflict. Some scientists believe that having a pet can’t always help an autistic child whereas others maintain that “animals act as a type of communication-bridge giving children with autism something to talk about with others.”
Parents with autistic children have found that “there’s something about being with an animal that maybe you can’t get anywhere else” and their report highlighted how you can “stroke a dog and […] don’t have to tell them all your stuff, but you just feel understood in a non-verbal way. They [pets] can sense a lot of things about you, like if you’re sad.”
Pets aren’t a miracle cure
The reassurance that a child can find in a pet is always invaluable but it should be remembered that the problems associated with the autistic spectrum won’t be solved with a magic wand.
Even if science can’t conclusively prove that animals do help those suffering from autism, the bond between children and pets has always been strong.
If owning a pet helps to improve a child’s confidence, then that child will feel more able to deal with the surrounding world. There are a variety of new projects that offer specially trained dogs to work with and protect autistic children and these are yielding fantastic results.
If a child can reach its full potential with the help of a four-legged friend, then animals may succeed where science has failed.