How to Stop Wandering: Some Tips for Parents

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Being a parent to autistic child is challenging but their love does miracles. Every child and every case is special and unique. Of course, parents have already surfed the Internet and other resources, including books, phone apps to help them … Continue reading

Dogs May Be Able to Increase Concentration and Socialization in Children with ASD

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Studies have shown that autistic children that take part in therapies involving animals, particularly dogs, tend to be more relaxed and can have a better ability to concentrate. Continue reading

Dog Helps Girl with Autism Surf

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Gina Gill, a 9-year-old girl with autism from San Diego, has struggled with socializing and self-confidence for most of her life. Fortunately, Gina has been able to boost her self esteem by learning how to surf: her teacher being a 5-year-old golden retriever name Ricochet. Continue reading

An autistic boy forms a special bond with a horse

Isaiah Forte, a nine year old boy with autism, has become somewhat of a news sensation. He connected with a horse and now they take home ribbons together.

This has been wonderfully exciting for his parents who say that they took Isaiah to HorseAbility Center for Equine Facilitated Programs in Westbury, NY, and he immediately got attached to a particular horse named Ginger.

HorseAbility center provides therapeutic horseback riding for children and adults with special needs.

Although he has trouble connecting with people, Isaiah has no problem communicating with the horse. Everything with Ginger seems to come naturally.

Isaiah has competed at a horse show on Long Island, and won ribbons in a class for riders with disabilities.

Since he’s started riding Ginger, Isaiah’s shown tremendous improvement all around, even in the classroom. His special education teacher explains that now he focuses better on reading. She really thinks that horseback riding is helping him with school as well.

“HorseAbility . . . really gave him confidence. That, to me, was like his coming out party,” Isaiah’s father, Rick Forte, explained.

His mother stresses that the progress Isaiah has made while riding this horse has been “monumental”.

The jury is still out on whether or not hippotherapy, a therapy treatment strategy that uses the movement of horses, is very effective with autistic kids.

There have been small studies conducted about its impact on autistic children, but there is no in depth study yet that proves horseback riding is particularly beneficial.

However, there is a lot of research that proves contact with animals can reduce anxiety in children, and there is no denying the effect the horse Ginger has had on Isaiah.

To watch the video and read more go to: http://www.today.com/moms/riding-horse-brings-autistic-boy-out-his-shell-2D11577330

By: Rachel Schranck

Animals Help Children With Autism Show Increased Positive Social Behaviors

Research published February 2013 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Marguerite E O’Haire and colleagues from the University of Queensland, Australia indicates that the existence of an animals in the presence of these children can significantly increase positive social behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The authors found that these children were also more sympathetic to social advances from their peers in the presence of the animals than they were when playing with toys. They compared how 5-13 year old children with ASD interacted with adults and typically-developing peers in the company of two guinea pigs compared to toys. The presence of animals also improved  smiling and laughing, and reduced frowning, whining and crying behaviors in children with ASD more than having toys did.

Earlier studies have shown that people are more likely to receive overtures of friendship from strangers when walking a dog than when walking alone, and similar effects have been observed for people holding smaller animals like rabbits or turtles. The authors suggest that this ‘social lubricant’ effect of animals on human social interactions can be particularly important for individuals with socio-emotional disabilities.

The authors believe that the potential of an animal to help children with ASD bond to adults may help advance interactions with therapists, teachers or other adult figures. They also found that animal-assisted intervention may have applications in the classroom as well, saying “For children with ASD, the school classroom can be a stressful and overwhelming environment due to social challenges and peer victimization. If an animal can reduce this stress or artificially change children’s perception of the classroom and its occupants, then a child with ASD may feel more at ease and open to social approach behaviors.”