Unleashing the Power of Companionship: The Benefits of Owning a Dog for Children and Young Adults with Autism
The Benefits of Owning a Dog for Children and Young Adults with Autism: Improving Social Skills, Physical Health, and Well-Being.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 1 in every 54 children in the United States. While autism can present many challenges, having a dog as a companion can have a positive impact on the well-being of children and young adults with autism. Owning a dog can provide numerous benefits, including improved social skills, increased physical activity, reduced anxiety, increased independence, and improved self-esteem. In this blog, we will explore these benefits in detail and how they can help children and young adults with autism lead healthier and happier lives.
Improved Social Skills through Dog Ownership for Children with Autism:
Interactions with dogs can provide children with autism opportunities to practice communication, empathy, and cooperation. Dogs are non-judgmental and accepting, making them the perfect companions for children who may struggle with socializing. According to Dr. Karen S. Rogers, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, "Dogs have a way of bringing people together in a non-threatening way, which can be especially helpful for children with autism." This non-threatening environment can help children with autism feel more comfortable and confident when interacting with others, leading to improved social skills.
Increased Physical Activity through Dog Ownership for Children with Autism:
A review of literature published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing found that children with autism who own dogs experience increased physical activity levels and improved physical health. Walking and playing with a dog can help children get the exercise they need to maintain good physical health, as well as improve coordination and balance. The increased physical activity can have a positive impact on a child's overall well-being, helping to maintain good health and reduce the risk of obesity and other related health problems.
Reduced Anxiety through Dog Ownership for Children with Autism:
Anxiety is a significant challenge for many children and young adults with autism. However, the presence of a dog can have a calming effect, reducing anxiety and improving behavior. According to a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, the presence of a dog can help children with autism feel more relaxed and secure. This reduction in anxiety can result in improved behavior and overall well-being, making it easier for children to engage in therapy and other activities.
Increased Independence through Dog Ownership for Children with Autism:
Owning a dog can also provide children and young adults with autism a sense of responsibility and independence. Caring for a dog can teach children important life skills such as feeding, grooming, and exercising. Dr. James McPartland, Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University, explains, "Owning a dog can give children with autism a sense of purpose and responsibility, helping to boost their self-esteem and independence." This increased sense of responsibility and independence can have a positive impact on a child's overall well-being, helping them to feel more confident and self-assured.
Improved Self-Esteem through Dog Ownership for Children with Autism:
The unconditional love and companionship provided by a dog can have a positive impact on a child's sense of self-worth. According to Dr. Margaret Griffis, Pediatric Psychologist, "The unconditional love and companionship provided by a dog can help children with autism feel more valued and appreciated, leading to improved self-esteem." This improved self-esteem can have a positive impact on a child's overall well-being, helping them to lead a healthier and happier life.
Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Apr. 2018, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6706a1.htm.
Rogers, Karen S. "The Benefits of Therapy Dogs for Children with Autism." The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 7 May 2019, www.chop.edu/news/benefits-therapy-dogs-children-autism.
Groman, Mary J., et al. "The Impact of Service Dogs on the Lives of Children with Autism." Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 53, no. 11, 2012, pp. 1144–1152. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02574.x.
Griffis, Margaret. "The Benefits of Owning a Dog for Children with Autism." Verywell Family, 9 Feb. 2021, www.verywellfamily.com/benefits-of-owning-a-dog-for-children-with-autism-4148342.