Research demonstrates that spending time with pets can help autistic children develop social skills:
‘The study, from French researchers, is the first strong scientific evidence that animals may help foster social skills in individuals with autism, but it also reinforces what clinicians have been hearing anecdotally for years.
“We hear from parents a lot that having a pet or interacting with an animal really helps their child’s social behavior, but there hasn’t been a study so far that has looked at that scientifically,” said Alycia Halladay, director of environmental research at Autism Speaks. “This offers some intriguing evidence to confirm what parents have been saying.”
How do pets help:
- Pets are predictable. Some owners would disagree but pets have smaller range of predictable emotions comparing to humans. This can help autistic kids recognise their pets’ emotions more easily.
- Pets have buckets of time. Research shows that one of the biggest factor in teaching autistic kids healthy social interaction is the amount of interaction. Pets don’t go to work, they have no other commitments, other then eating perhaps. Their diary is wide open.
- It’s that thing – unconditional love. Humans tend to place judgement on their interaction with others. Even if it’s subconscious judgement. Pets don’t. Their love is unconditional. Autistic children perceive this in ways we sometimes don’t.