Poodles and pets may help children with autism

There is strong evidence now that shows that Poodles and pets may help children with autism.  A new study done at Centres Hospitaliers Régionaux et Universitaires de Brest in Bohars, France may prove that pets, especially dogs, could be helpful to children suffering from autism.

young boy and a poodle

This poodle is this boy's special friend

It seems that the introduction of pets in the home may give rise to pro-social behavior in autistic children.  The researchers found that by introducing a dog into the household, the autistic children seem to exhibit improved sharing and comforting behavior.  According to the researchers involved in this new study of pets and humans, this may be the very first study which shows an association between having a poodle or a dog interact with an autistic child and positive changes in the prosocial behavior of that child.

The team studied two groups of autistic children comprising 12 who had acquired a family pet (mainly a dog or cat) after the age of 5 years and eight who had owned a family pet since birth.
The children, along with two groups of age-, gender-, and language level-matched autistic controls who had never owned pets, were assessed using the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) at the age of 4‑5 years and again at an average age of 10 years.
The researchers found that children who acquired a family pet after the age of 5 years showed significant improvements compared with controls in scores for two of the 36 ADI-R items, namely “offering to share,” eg, sharing food or toys with parents or other children, and “offering comfort,” eg, reassuring parents or peers who were sad or hurt.

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Poodles and pets may help children with autism

Recently, there have been more and more programs where therapy dogs, Labradoodles and other types of dogs in particular, have been brought to schools where they are introduced to children with autism.  There have also been many programs like the ones that have brought in therapy dogs to give college students a stress-relief break during intense studying for finals.  There have also been programs in many local public schools that allow visits from therapy dogs to visit children in schools that read to the dogs.  Programs like these have all been very well received by the children, parents and the schools.

The results from these therapy dog programs have all been quite positive.  As you well know, dogs, cats and other pets have a very therapeutic effect on people.  Things like reduced stress and increased serotonin levels have been associated with caring for and petting an animal like a poodle, cat or even a rabbit.  People with pets tend to have less stress and better health in general.

Here is a video of a very touching story of how a golden retriever helped a young boy with autism come out of his shell and learn to trust and interact with this gentle and loving animal.




As you can see from watching this video, dogs are so special and they can truly change people’s lives, especially this young autistic boy’s life.


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