We have been already writing about dogs helping families with autistic children. Four paws is another “helping hand” nowadays and recent research shows that animal therapy makes a positive influence on those who have autism and other special abilities by improving their social skills.
Thus, the MU Research Center for Human Animal Interaction announced a new project called Feline Friends. The aim of the project is to study the benefits of placing shelter cats with families with autistic children. Animal therapy helps to improve social interaction and social adjustment. Dr. Gretchen Carlisle, a Post-Doctoral Fellow that will be working on Feline Friends, explains, “What we would like to explore is whether or not some of the benefits of increased social skills that we’ve seen with dogs could also be found with cats in these homes.”
Researchers will measure both anxiety and stress levels in children as well as cortisol stress levels in the cats to measure the success of the project.
Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Director of ReCHAI noticed “In Dr. Carlisle’s previous research, it was found that sometimes children respond better to a quiet animal like a cat than to a dog. Dogs are often very vigorous and energetic and in your face type pets and that can be a problem for children with autism.”
We will be looking forward for the positive results of this research and hope that our furry little friends can help children with autism.