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Dogs and Autism is it possible? Your reference source to Dog therapy and Autism

Updated on July 6, 2009

Dog Therapy uncovered

For many years, dog therapy has been used with children and the elderly. The therapy has proven to be extremely beneficial, especially to those that are ill or have socialization issues. Children respond well to dog therapy. While most pet therapy programs involve children with disease or those that are healing, dog therapy is also very effective for children with autism. For those of you who have pets, you are already aware of their soothing and comforting effects. Interactions with animals, particularly dogs, have healing benefits and therapeutic effects.

Children with autism experience many different issues. Many kids have trouble sleeping and socializing. Autistic children also suffer from severe headaches. Various studies have been performed to determine the effects of pet therapy with autistic children. The results were astounding. The children involved in these studies developed a strong bond with the animal. There was also a reported decrease of blood pressure in the patients. This helped to alleviate the headaches autistic kids often experience.

Are Autism Dogs Effective with children?

Many people associate autism with violence. While it is true that many people with autism do have a violent streak, it was noted that when the children were around the therapy dogs, their temper subsided and there were no signs of violence at all. The children were calm and relaxed. The animal also helped relieve tension and feelings of loneliness. These children found a true friend in the therapy dog.

Autism therapy dogs are not only used to lift the spirits of the patient. They can also be a teaching tool. Many children who are involved in pet therapy have become attached to the animal, often taking on a maternal role to the dog. They learn to care for the animal in terms of feeding and brushing. The dogs also help autistic patients develop social skills, such as trust and respect.

Autistic Dogs and Children Therapy

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Dog Therapy can work

It has been a proven fact that animal therapy has a positive effect. It wasn’t until a few years ago that the therapy was introduced to those with neurological or psychological disorders, such as autism. Autism presents itself differently with each patient. The needs of one patient cannot be compared to those of another. This is why dog therapy is a wonderful thing. It allows the patients to bond with the animal, and without realizing, the patients begin working on skills and socialization techniques. The dogs also have a massive effect on patients in a physical manner. The mere presence of an animal has been proven to reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce stress. All of these things are important factors of autism.

There are many programs that support the use of therapy dogs with autistic patients. Therapy dogs can be valuable tools for individuals with autism. They can promote healthy behaviors, increase socialization, aid with self-development and help with physical ailments. A therapy dog is a great addition to any therapeutic plan already in place. These dogs can make a significant difference in the lives of those with autism. The benefits are amazing and there are endless possibilities. Dog therapy does work with autistic patients. Animal have a natural way of making us all feel better. Why should that be any less true when dealing with autistic patients? These patients benefit greatly from animal therapy.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      is there a claver dog out there,who could help my lonely aurtisik child,he need a frend badly,well trained would help,thats his wish for christmas,i no that wont happen,but you can only hope x

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      can you get a therapy dog for kids with sensory processing disorder????

    • profile image

      Jane Landsman 

      8 years ago

      My husband and I have ann Alaskan Malamute who, in addition to being my Service Dog, is also a Therapy Dog. He has been a regular with us at the Rebecca School here in NYC for the past two years. We are always seeking to find new venues to expand his therapy work with autistic children. If you want to know more about him and his therapy work, visit his own Website @ Boo Woofenill

    • FeliceA profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi there. Thanks for bringing this possibility to my attention. I have a friend with a son who is autistic. I doubt if he is willing or able to house a dog, but maybe there are programs where the child can spend time with a therapy dog.

    • illminatus profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Sandra thank you for the insight. I don't have any knowledge first hand of autistic children but could imagine some of the possible difficulties. What other therapy programs are there?

    • Sandra Louis profile image

      Sandra Louis 

      9 years ago

      This is a great hub. I have some personal experience with a high functioning autistic child. Having a dog in the house helped the child see how negative behaviors, like anger and yelling, frightened the dog and made it run away and hide. This has helped her see first hand how something she loved was affected by how she acted. The negative behavior would stop because she wanted the dog to keep loving her and playing with her. Thanks for writing about this subject. These kids need lots of love and understanding, and therapy dogs need are great for giving just that. There are also therapy programs out there using horses, if you are interested in that.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      I know autistic children engage in repetitive behaviors; such as, rocking, twirling and head banging, and that these can escalate. They also have impaired interaction with adults. I would think that a therapy dog would be very soothing, and possibly bring about some degree of interaction with the autistic child. Good hub.......... Important issue


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