Research suggests that assistance dogs can positively impact children with autism and their families, as reported by researcher Rebecca Armstrong. She reviews the most recent research and practical aspects of having a dog for children with autism and parents. A well-trained dog can protect your child and help with their behavior, emotions, and language.
Studies on Building the Virtual Assistance Dog Device
-Do you or your family members consider getting an assistance dog?
-Are you or your loved ones on a waitlist in search of an aid dog?
-Do you or your family members make use of an assistance dog?
The training consists of obedience training, social behavior education (how you behave when in public spaces), home-based training for behavior, and task-specific instruction (specific to the handicap and the owner’s needs). A well-trained and trained dog can help individuals and their family members; however, without a certification, it cannot be used in various places. There is not much research regarding assistive dogs’ benefits to children with autism. The research available indicates promising results. Berry and coworkers (2012) presented an analysis of the literature on six studies published.
-This includes stopping children from bolting or getting out of bed late at night (Burrows, Adams & Spiers 2008).
-The development of motor skills continues, including regulating walking speed and everyday skills for taking care of dogs, e.g., throwing and picking up balls, opening food containers, and placing the bowl on the floor (Burrows and colleagues 2008).
-A decreased anxiety among children was evident in fewer “tantrums”/meltdowns and a greater sense of calm (Burrows and co. 2008).
-The introduction of an assist dog led to lower physical stress levels by measuring cortisol levels and the cortisol awake response (CAR). The CAR was observed to be decreased in the presence of dogs and increased when the dog was taken away (Viau and colleagues. 2010).
-Improved sleep patterns, fewer reports of behavioral issues such as tantrums, and an increase in tolerance to sounds (Viau and al.,2010)
-Reduced parental stress (Burrows et al., 2008).
-It increased children’s social interaction with family members and the community (Burrows and co. 2008).
-Parental reports of emotional and emotional benefits like helping children understand living creatures. These dogs provide security during a routine, and daily chores become more manageable and provide inspiration for the children (Davis and colleagues. 2004).
Families faced significant expenses, which included financial, behavioral, and time-related issues, and many families reported it becoming stressful (Davis and co. (2004)).
After the literature review at the end of 2012, Burgoyne, along with coworkers (2014), conducted research to gather the perspectives of parents of children with autism that had an assistance dog and 87 parents of children who were on waiting lists for one. The results showed that parents with an assistance dog perceived their child as safer. They believed that the general public behaved more responsibly and respectfully toward their children and believed they were more capable of controlling their kids (Burgoyne and co. 2014).
They also reported that they considered the help dogs’ role as a positive intervention, emphasizing safety, peace, comfort, and a sense of belonging to their kids. They noted a feeling of security and “normal family life,” for example, being able to go to an outlet mall (p.7).
While there are certain limitations in this study, like it was an auto-generated report and no objective measure of basic safety, as well as the possibility of subject bias and expectancy impacts, the study suggests positive results that merit additional research.
Therapy Dogs in Research
Therapy dog research also has positive results. The research presented in the review conducted by Berry and coworkers utilized therapy dogs as a method in therapy to aid interactions with therapists or occupational therapy. Redefer and Goodman (1989) discovered that social withdrawal was reduced significantly beginning with the first session where dogs were present.
The interactions between children and the therapist increased compared to previous sessions in which only the therapy was in session. Children displayed fewer repetitive behaviors and were more engaged in social interactions with the dogs present. The authors noted that the dog was an intermediary between the children and the therapy. It also offered opportunities for the therapist to actively coordinate positive interactions and social behaviors like communicating and playing alongside the pet, maintaining actions, and expanding the behavioral repertoire.
The other research which looked at interactions with therapists in the presence of dogs found that when the therapy dog surrounded them, the children had a happier mood and were more likely to concentrate their focus on the dog, communicate with the dog, and join the therapist in discussions with the animal. Sams and coworkers (2006) studied Occupational therapy with animals for children with autism compared to traditional occupational therapy.
Aggression and “self-absorption” were less frequent in sessions with therapy dogs—contact with the eyes. In addition, affectionate and smiling behaviors were more frequent in sessions that involved the dogs. While this study is old and contains small samples, it shows that therapy dogs can be used to enhance active involvement with children in therapy.
Research on Pets Dogs
A few studies have suggested that children with autism prefer to interact with dogs rather than people or objects when provided with these options (Prothmann, Ettrich, & Prothmann 2009). In a study of 14 participants, all children enjoyed engaging with dogs the most frequently in the extended period, compared to playing with other objects or people. Most children talked to the dog and even petted it, and many were involved in playing with their dog (either by throwing the ball around or hiding treats for the dog). Recent research has shown that having pets has a significant positive effect.
It has been proven to decrease stress and dramatically improve performance for families with children with autism. It was found to be an evident positive correlation between the parents’ stress and affection for the dog in the family. Families that did not have pets 2 1/2 years prior didn’t show the same reduction in stress levels as families who had introduced a pet to their family (Hall and co. 2016).
Assistance dogs can positively impact children who have autism as well as their family members. It appears this goes far beyond safety and has a therapeutic value that affects emotions, behavior, behavior, and communication. Because assistance dogs can be costly to families with children, a properly trained pet for the family can provide many of the same advantages as assistance dogs. The benefit of having aid dogs lies in the fact that they can be permitted to go into public places where a family pet cannot travel.