Pets help children with autism improve social skills

Dogs and other pets play an important role in individuals’ social lives, and they can act as catalysts for social interaction, previous research has shown. Although much media attention has focused on how dogs can improve the social skills of children with autism, a University of Missouri researcher recently found that children with autism have stronger social skills when any kind of pet lived in the home.

“When I compared the social skills of children with autism who lived with dogs to those who did not, the children with dogs appeared to have greater social skills,” said Gretchen Carlisle, research fellow at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “More significantly, however, the data revealed that children with any kind of pet in the home reported being more likely to engage in behaviors such as introducing themselves, asking for information or responding to other people’s questions. These kinds of social skills typically are difficult for kids with autism, but this study showed children’s assertiveness was greater if they lived with a pet.”

Pets often serve as “social lubricants,” Carlisle said. When pets are present in social settings or a classroom, children talk and engage more with one another. This effect also seems to apply to children with autism and could account for their increased assertiveness when the children are living in a home with pets, Carlisle said…

I will allow that dogs might be more effective than rather standoffish cats here.

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  • DavidinNorthBurnaby

    Awww. That’s nice. And sort of cleans the palate a bit so to speak. Thanks for sharing this. On the other hand, its Islamophobic, what with dogs being haraam and all.
    And that makes it that much better. 🙂

  • Brett_McS

    Are the autistic kids writing the signs as well? “Who rescued whom“.

    • Thermblog

      I was gong to mention that. This is what happens when animals are promoted above their station. That poor kid has now been exposed to unacceptable grammar. (I’m certain the dog is responsible.) This can only contribute to the downfall of western civilisation.

      • Brett_McS

        This is how it begins!

  • phuque uguugle

    However it is spelt I would expect whoever to be smart enough to get the message and not pick his nits or nuts about it. It is a wonderful thought however it is spelt and thank you for sharing.<:o)

  • minuteman

    Dogs truly are man’s best friend. Cats are ok too.