Just like humans, dogs can also be considered as “friends” or “buddies”. More families choose a pet dog over other animals because of their exceptional sincerity and care. Would you believe that dogs are also ideal companions for children with autism? There are even service dogs in other countries just to respond to patients’ needs. Autism spectrum disorder is associated with characteristics like uncontrollable behaviors, mood variations, and self-injurious actions among the patients. At a young age, more children face the effects of autism even without full awareness about their conditions. It is quite hard to manage the unpredictable movements of an autistic child. Bringing a patient in school is not enough.
Nowadays, therapy dogs are becoming more popular when it comes to improving children’s skills. With the presence of a dog at home, there are plenty of benefits for the family member with autism.
Here are some of the roles and functions portrayed by a dog in an autistic child’s life:
- A dog calms a child. In autism, patients are observed with a changing mood and emotional outbursts. Parents are puzzled on what to do—they can just look at their child in tears. With the help of a dog, children become calm. In times of tantrums, a trained dog simply stays beside the patient.
- It helps in decreasing repetitive motion. It is ordinary for an autistic child to do repetitive behaviors, usually forceful ones. The cause of sudden variation is not identified because you cannot get an answer from the child himself. Through the dog, some patients just forget to show these repetitive actions. Dogs are intelligent enough to see whether a child is doing something which is bad for him.
- It serves as a friend. Most people will agree that dogs are perfect buddies. These animals are also capable of giving unconditional love for the people they value. When you show a positive attitude towards dogs, you will receive a positive response. Doing the opposite thing will result to a worse scenario. Autistic children are fortunate to have even a single dog at home. They are treated on with a motherly love. Dogs have similar attributes with the humans when it comes to caring and showing love.
- It enhances relationships. Within the family, dogs are considered as a member due to their essential presence. Between a dog and an autistic child, close relationship can be established. By merely playing, there’s a chance of building friendship or companionship. When parents or siblings are busy with other tasks, the dog remains as a giver of reliable support and guidance.
- It boosts children’s interest on doing daily activities. If an autistic child observes that someone is beside him, he will gain a motivation to pursue an activity.
- It alleviates the stress. A dog has the ability to reduce the worries and doubts of a child with autism.
- It improves both verbal and nonverbal communication. There are studies which show that dogs are really helpful on encouraging an autistic child to express himself.
Dogs are indeed great companions for autism patients. They might transform a child’s life with their mere presence.