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Autism Therapy Dogs Can Make a Difference

We’ve heard about Seeing Eye dogs making a difference in the lives of the blind, virtually guiding them
through and in effect, making the world more navigable and even happier for them. How about having
dogs that serve part of therapy for children with autism?

Autism is a disorder of neural development which highly affects information processing in the brain
usually characterized by impaired social interaction, communication and by restricted and repetitive
behavior. As of 2008, 11 per 1000 children in the United States alone are diagnosed with this disorder
and as much as 1-2 per 1000 people worldwide. The prevalence of Autism cannot be underrated; hence,
there are available approaches that would include therapies such as speech and language therapy, social
skills therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
With this, specially trained service dogs are now also helping children with autism for them to learn
activities for daily living, ultimately leading them to gain success and independence despite their
condition. In the same way, Seeing Eye dogs are trained to help the blind, autism therapy dogs are
professionally trained when they are still young. After the general training period, which usually lasts
from around six months to a year, families having children with autism begin collaborating with the
organization to train the dog, either in the training facility or in families’ homes, in a way that directly
meets their needs.

In an article from Gimundo, these dogs become part of the daily therapy for children, therapy dogs as
the as name speak for itself. These therapy dogs act as companions and helps children through their
daily tasks and coping with their waterloo on social.

“A lot of times families feel trapped in their homes,” says Karen Shirk, executive director of Paws for
Ability, a service dog–training organization in Ohio. “The dogs act as an anchor for the child, giving
families more freedom to go places together.

According to a study made from the University of Montreal as seen in the Gimundo article, the
comforting presence of the therapy dog for children with autism helps reduce their master’s stress
levels as well as promote positive social interaction. Researchers measured kids’ levels of cortisol (the
stress hormone) before, during, and after they began working with a dog. When the kids had the dog by
their side, the result of cortisol levels was affected tremendously by a 50 percent decrease.

As we all know, cortisol is the stress hormone. With a significant decrease in the stress hormone level,
what can it suggest? The results are really positive thereby producing more happy children with a dog by
their side.

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