Most families won’t feel complete until a pet is part of it. They bring so much to a home, becoming part of the family as they provide companionship and unconditional love.
But did you know there is much more to owning a pet than having a cuddly companion? Firstly they are beneficial to both your child and yourself, providing a harmonious family dynamic and lowering stress for everyone. Alongside this they will help your child in a variety of ways as they are growing up.
Any pet can do this, but dogs that are really man’s best friend and to a child with autism, they are so much more than a best friend – aiding them in ways that don’t only help them develop but change their lives for the better.
Many children with autism find interacting with other children difficult; therefore they lack friendship and as a result develop feelings of isolation and loneliness. However, studies have shown that children with autism have made substantial progress related to social interaction when they spend time with a pet. A study at Cambridge University revealed that children who have experienced adversity in their lives are more likely to turn to a pet for support rather than a sibling or peer.
That is where a dog comes in, – but not only are they a friend for the child, they can help their owner make human friends. Research has found that when a dog is present during social encounters, children with autism use social skills that they would usually struggle with – such as making eye contact, smiling and maintaining conversation.
Pets help children in general to develop better than those who don’t have pets – boosting their self-esteem, social confidence and empathy. Pets teach children responsibility, as they must care for something other than themselves. They socialise them and increase verbal skills, providing a fun learning experience whilst keeping them healthy and developing their self-esteem and academic skills.
These benefits are just the start for a child with autism, whose social skills are already way behind those of a child without it. The dog doesn’t teach the skills, but opens up opportunities for the skills to be learnt. It is believed a dog acts as a catalyst for social interaction whilst helping to reduce the anxiety normally experienced in social situations by their owner.
If you have a child with autism (or in fact, a child without it) check out the puppies for sale from Freeads and start the process to find a four-legged friend that won’t only bring joy and love to your entire family, but will help your child as they grow. Whether you go for a Great Dane or a Chihuahua, the benefits that come with this addition to your family will last for years to come.
If your family isn’t ready for the responsibility that comes with owning a dog, another pet will work just as well. Any kind of pet, whether a guinea pig, kitten or even a spider, will make a child with autism more likely to engage in positive social behaviour.