Dogs can help families with autistic children

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Pet dogs can help to reduce stress in the parents of children who are living with developmental disability autism. Initial research results have found...

 Pet dogs can help to reduce stress in the parents of children who are living with developmental disability autism.

Initial research results have found that having a dog as a pet could help to improve communication and relationships between parent and child.

The results of study, which was conducted by the University of Lincoln, were discussed at a Royal Society of Medicine.

The researchers compared 20 families living with a pet dog to 20 families without a dog and found that dogs can improve an autistic child’s behaviour, particularly where eating, sleeping and tantrums are concerned. 

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At a Parents’ Autism Workshop and Support course, the families with a dog as pet and an autistic child praised their canines for the help they have given their family.

They said their dogs were helping their children to develop their language skills, establish a routine and also aiding in requesting an action in a non-confrontational way.

The Dogs for the Disabled charity have said that they have had approximately 1,300 inquiries in the last six months from people trying to find out how dogs can help them if they have a family member living with autism.

Peter Gorbing, the Chief Executive of the charity, said in an interview: “Dogs are relatively low-cost and low-tech.”

“Now is our moment. People were previously sceptical of what role they could play, but recently I have found a more receptive audience. Things are changing rapidly.”

Professor Daniel Mills, from the University of Lincoln, said: “While there is no shortage of opinion on how dogs can help, there has been little money given to scientifically look into this.”

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