autism service dogs
autism service dogs

How Autism Service Dogs Benefit the Whole Family

It’s always said that a dog is a man’s best friend. Have you ever wondered what that means, though? Sure, dogs can provide companionship, protection, and many comical memories, making them a great choice for families everywhere. However, they’re perfect for enhancing the lives of autistic children and adults alike, especially in social interaction.

Dogs have been discovered to provide invaluable services to the human race, particularly the neurodivergent community. Autism service dogs, or assistance dogs as they’re also known, are fantastic canine companions for independence, supporting autistic children all over the world.

Before we list the benefits of an Autism service dog for adults or children, let’s consider the key characteristics of therapy dogs. These can include autism service dogs and what makes them a great choice for families.

What Tasks Define Autism Service Dogs?

Not all dogs are service dogs or assistance dogs. Professional trainers, mental health professionals, and breeders seek for special traits in order to train the perfect Autism assistance dogs. Sensory overload is a core element of the job role, so the dogs need to be able to respond calmly in all stressful situations.

The ideal service dogs are friendly, intelligent, loving, calm, and, most importantly, enjoy working. This is because the tasks service dogs carry out include:

  • Moving unconscious people to public settings
  • Sounding alarms for dangerous situations, going on walks and being in public
  • Coming into contact with many people
  • Being alert and observational
  • Stimulating sensory processing via deep pressure therapy

Service animals are specially trained to accompany their human partner everywhere they go. It’s important to remember that while therapy animals, dogs in particular, make great pets, they are working animals. In some cases, dogs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may need to move to a new home should the child reach adulthood before the dog retires.

What Breeds Make The Best Therapy Dogs for Autistic People?

Common breeds for service dogs include German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Boxers and Pomeranians. Psychiatric service dogs take part in special service dog training programs and are bred specially for animal-assisted intervention to help anyone with a developmental disorder.

Common family pets and pets available in pet shops or local animal shelters are not sufficient in quality service standards and specifications to serve. For this reason, you may have to research and contact a local specialist in an assistance dog to match the perfect dog for autistic people.

two golden retrievers happy

Golden Retrievers make fantastic Austim Service Dogs due to their calm temperament and loving nature

What are the Benefits of Therapy Dogs for Autistic Children?

Autism service dogs for adults and children are a great intervention strategy for any autistic people, but more so autistic children. That’s because these dogs, being service trained, assist immensely with helping autistic people improve their social interaction, communication skills, and in some cases motor skills by providing sensory input.

Providing an Autism Assistance Dog to support anyone with developmental or physical disabilities will help their confidence, self-esteem, peer relationships, and social skills.

Help With Falling Asleep by Applying Deep Pressure

These assistance dogs help ensure the entire family gets some well-needed sleep. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. This may have parents up at odd hours of the night trying to calm their child, so he or she can go to sleep.

Assistance dogs that help autistic children regulate their emotions, calm down and fall into a bedtime routine contribute enormously to easing parents’ burden. Especially when ensuring their child has a good night’s sleep – often to the result of them not getting much!

Deep pressure therapy sessions help calm the child, similar to a weighted blanket. For those who are stimulated by touch, a support dog can put their minds to rest and help bring a good night’s sleep, no matter what’s causing them to stay awake at night.

Alert Parents and Children to Potential Dangers

There’s not much scarier than getting lost in a strange place. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder are, in some cases, prone to running away when they struggle to process their emotions or suffer from sensory overload in their daily life.

This often leaves the parents with an added responsibility for constantly monitoring their child’s whereabouts. The ones in special training with a professional dog trainer learn to immediately alert family members of imminent danger and find a missing child, thus reuniting and keeping everyone safe from danger.

teenager in a field with a bag

A service dog can help prevent Autistic teenagers from running away in times of trouble

How Do They Help Families of Kids With Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Psychiatric service dogs allow other family members a bit more spare time for themselves. Parents, siblings and grandparents may not fully be alleviated from the responsibility of monitoring and supervising their children. They may receive a bit more spare time to focus on their own personal activities than a service dog presence.

The reason for this is twofold: service dogs use their team training to alert others in an emergency situation if a threat is looming. They also draw the attention of autistic adults and children in pet-owner bonding time. This safely occupies the child for a time long enough for parents to squeeze in a quick chore or phone call.

young family with dog on grass

A service dog can provide much needed love that bonds the family together in times of need

A Family Pet Boosts Morale and Happiness in the Home

Service Dogs can keep families from divorcing and splitting due to the camaraderie and companionship they provide. There are hundreds of families who have broken apart permanently due to the stresses and pressures of caring for a special – needs child. Husbands and wives don’t have time for each other and neglect the marriage due to special needs that need meeting for the children.

Service dogs can help bithg children and adults with Autism by acting as emotional support animals, bringing a spirit of love and laughter, and extreme sentimental value. By extension, the family allows for other relationships within the family to be healed, repaired and focused on. For example, while the autistic person and the dog are occupied bonding and playing safely, it gives loved ones an opportunity to spend quality time together.

Having a service dog in the house gives emotional support to all members of the household. While the service dog belongs primarily to the Autistic adult or child, chances are the dog will become a family dog, interacting with and giving lots of love to the rest of the family members, boosting everyone’s mental health!

Emotional Support Animals Decrease Repetitive Behaviors in Children with Autism

Research states that animals serve as a mood booster, helping alleviate repetitive behaviors such as OCD. They also improve symptoms of conditions in autistic Adults and children alike such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks, fear, worry, and many other mental health conditions.

Larger breeds can help a person with Autism by offering deep pressure therapy, where sitting on the person’s lap can provide a great sense of comfort and reduce stress levels. These relaxing properties help alleviate repetitive behaviors that may harm the child mentally or physically. Note this is different to positive stimming, which should be encouraged as they help improve quality of life for the individual.

They also soften the heart and allow others to build values such as empathy and compassion, which would then be used in other aspects of life. The overall sense of security that comes with an emotional support dog is a win for the entire family and children for whom the services are provided.

autism service dogs for adults

The right service dog can make a great addition to any home, even one without kids

Autism Service Dogs for Adults Benefit The Lives of Everyone

Autism service animals, especially dogs, hold many life skills for improving the quality of family life for families looking after autistic adults and children alike. The more time spent with service dogs for children, the more they know what love, joy, care, compassion, empathy and cherishing loved ones mean to themselves. 

These skills are then transferred to a child’s relationship with their parents, siblings, grandparents and others, making for stronger family relationships and secure emotional attachments. The positive effects massively outweigh any negatives.

As you can see, the sense of security that comes from owning an assistance animal such as a dog goes much more than saving a life, reducing emotional outbursts, or protecting Autistic adults and children from harm. They contribute to the core of a family’s heart and have a positive effect on everyone! Treat them with care and let them bring an improved quality of daily living your family deserves.

Depending on where you are, a diagnosis of Autism is needed to be eligible for a service dog as the application process is tough. Even if you aren’t eligible for a trained service dog, it’s still worth considering a pet as a family member of any household, so long as you do your research.

If you’re considering a service dog, contact a local service dog organization that can help you decide if this arrangement would be good for you and get yourself on the waiting list!

Now you know more about autistic service dogs and therapy animals, check out more of our content and see what else you can learn about the amazing world of neurodiversity!


Q: What are Autism Assistance Dogs?

A: Autism Assistance Dogs are specially trained service dogs for individuals with autism. These dogs provide emotional support and comfort, as well as protection from danger, to their owners. They are able to provide stability and offer a calming presence when their owner is in an unfamiliar or stressful situation.

Q: How do Autism Assistance Dogs help people with autism?

A: Autism Assistance Dogs can help people with autism in many ways. They can provide companionship, reduce feelings of isolation, improve communication skills, decrease anxiety levels, and increase the ability to navigate public spaces safely. Additionally, they can be trained to alert caregivers of potential dangers or changes in behavior.

Q: Who is eligible for an Autism Assistance Dog?

A: Most organizations require a diagnosis of autism to be eligible for an assistance dog. There may also be other physical or medical requirements that need to be met before being approved for a service dog. It is best to contact a local service dog organization to discuss your specific needs and determine if you are eligible for an assistance dog.

Q: Are there any costs associated with having an Autism Assistance Dog?

A: Yes, there will be costs associated with having an Autism Assistance Dog. These may include veterinary fees, food, and supplies. Additionally, you may need to pay for the service dog’s training and other services such as grooming or boarding. It is important to budget carefully before committing to getting a service dog.

Q: What are the Benefits of having an Autism Assistance Dog?

Many families find that having a service dog can drastically reduce the stress of caring for an autistic person. It can help provide structure and routine to daily life, as well as providing companionship and a sense of comfort. Service dogs can also be trained to alert their owners or caregivers to potential dangers or changes in behavior, making it easier for adults and children with autism to stay safe.

Having an Autism Assistance Dog can also create a sense of independence for the individual. Service dogs can be trained to help with everyday tasks such as opening doors, retrieving items, and carrying items. This can give those with autism more freedom and control over their lives. Additionally, service dogs can help reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation by providing companionship and comfort. 

Last Updated on March 15, 2023 by Neurodadversity

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30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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