Children with autism show increased positive social behaviors when animals present

Discussion in 'Parenting News' started by runawaybunny, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Guest

    Social behaviors increase in children with autism in the presence of animals compared to toys

    The presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders (Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)), according to research by Marguerite E O'Haire and colleagues from the University of Queensland, Australia.

    The authors compared how 5-13 year old children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) interacted with adults and typically-developing peers in the presence of two guinea pigs compared to toys. They found that in the presence of animals, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) demonstrated more social behaviors like talking, looking at faces and making physical contact. They were also more receptive to social advances from their peers in the presence of the animals than they were when playing with toys. The presence of animals also increased instances of smiling and laughing, and reduced frowning, whining and crying behaviors in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) more than having toys did.

    Previous 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.

    According to the authors, the ability of an animal to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) connect to adults may help foster interactions with therapists, teachers or other adult figures. They add that animal-assisted interventions may have applications in the classroom as well, saying "For children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (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 Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may feel more at ease and open to social approach behaviors."

    Story Source:
    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Public Library of Science

    Study Reference:
    Published in the open access journal PLOS ONE

    This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ConductDisorders or its staff
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    No wonder so many of us around here have fur-babies.
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Law says that therapeutic methods in school must be evidence based! Yipee, let's get more animal therapy in the schools, better IEP's!