Friday, February 10, 2017

Support Dogs Help Children With Autism

  Dr. Lynette Gebler

This article was contributed by Dr. Lynette Gebler from Focus
Our history with dogs is a long one, spanning from once being an indispensible part of a work team to now becoming part of our families.   Whatever role a dog may play in your family, more and more dogs are becoming trained as “support animals”.  Support animals provide therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability and can also provide emotional support. 
Research has demonstrated that petting a cat or dog helps your body release a relaxation hormone and cuts down on levels of a stress hormone, which can lower your blood pressure.   This ability to help humans relax has made dogs a perfect companion for children and adults with autism.  This is especially true when they  find themselves in certain situations too overwhelming to handle. Children with autism may benefit from interacting with dogs, which can provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship.
Parents should consider their children’s sensitivities carefully when choosing a pet to ensure a good match. For example, a child who is easily agitated or is sensitive to noise may have difficulty with an extremely active dog or one that tends to bark. Bringing a dog into a home is a lifetime commitment and care should be taken that the dog is a good fit for your family. Ultimately, a well thought out decision to bring a support animal into your home is one that will bring years of joy and fulfillment to the family.
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