When it comes to animals, we all know they can offer a special bond like no other. When it comes to people with disabilities, animals have been helping in a big way for a long time. Whether it’s a guide dog for the blind, mobility assistance dogs, or even emotional support animals — people are beginning to understand this bond more and more and just how helpful it can be.
Among these special bonds, is the role animals play on kids with autism. It’s incredible for so many reasons! When our daughters were little, we decided we wanted a pet, so we adopted a dog who was past the potty-training stage, but still young enough to grow with our children. The girls were in love with our new family member. However, I quickly realized our puppy needed a companion as well.
We eventually found a second dog to add to our family that everyone got along with well. This tiny little pup was all of five pounds, but full of energy and love. At the time, our youngest daughter was not quite 3-years-old. She would pick him up and carrying him around like a baby doll at every chance, and he absolutely loved it.
While their autism diagnosis was unknown at that time, that goofy bond between my youngest daughter and the puppy has lasted until this very day. Our daughter cannot stand being away from him overnight, during school, or even a few hours out shopping. As for the dog, he seems to feel the same way. He always goes to her room, sleeps on her bed, and is sad when she is not home.
Their bond is just one example of the incredible amount of impact animals can have on kids with autism. Animals can provide companionship, friendship, and reduce anxiety. When it comes to dogs, there is substantial research on how dogs can help those with autism. There is a calming presence that dogs provide, and let’s face it, dogs are much easier to talk to than humans! There is no fear of judgment when telling your pet about your day and emotions.