Sometimes, there are stressful and frightful times when raising an autistic child. Parents are met with lots of challenges everyday and any helping hand is highly valued. Well, how about an extra 4 paws?
British researchers have been following families with autistic children who have a dog and have noticed a positive effect. Their observations have been spanning for more than two years and one researcher, Daniel Mills (a professor of veterinary behavioral medicine at the University of Lincoln) came to the following conclusion: “We found a significant, positive relationship between parenting stress of the child’s main caregiver and their attachment to the family dog. This highlights the importance of the bond between the caregiver and their dog in the benefits they gain…Stress associated with parenting a child with autism continued to decrease among dog owners over time, but we did not see the same reductions in families without a dog.”
Mills also added that this “long-term follow-up study highlights the potential benefits of pet ownership in bringing long-term improvements to the lives of families living with a child with autism.”
So, we now have scientific evidence that shows us the positive effects of having a pet during the stressful years of autism parenting. Not to mention, a dog can be a great addition to improve family harmony.