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 such as service dogs and what makes them a great choice for families.
Table of Contents
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:
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. So 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.
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.
Golden Retrievers make fantastic Austim Service Dogs due to their calm temperament and loving nature
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 communication skills and in some cases motor skills by providing sensory input.
Using a service dog to support anyone with a developmental disability will help their confidence, self-esteem, peer relationships, and social skills.
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 helps 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.
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.
A service dog can help prevent Autistic teenagers from running away in times of trouble
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, and also, they 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.
A service dog can provide much needed love that bonds the family together in times of need
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!
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, 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.
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.
The right service dog can make a great addition to any home, even one without kids
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.
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 impact on everyone! Treat them with care and let them bring an improved quality of life 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!
Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Neurodadversity
Comments are closed.
Lost your password?