Dogs have long been known as ‘man’s best friend’ and make wonderful pets, however, they can also play a huge part in healthcare. From guide dogs for the blind to companions for the elderly, our favorite four-legged friends have a number of roles to play when it comes to improving and supporting our health and wellbeing. Dogs make great pets for children; they are playful and fiercely loyal, happy to be a child’s best friend for life and protect them against any harm that may come their way. For children who are on the autism spectrum, dogs can be wonderful companions, helping these children to improve their social skills, empathy, and to overcome anxiety and fears. Here are some of the best reasons to consider getting an autism support dog for your child.
Children who suffer with autism often experience what is known as a sensory overload; they see, hear, smell and feel things a lot more strongly than those without autism and have extremely heightened senses. Children with autism do not have the same ability as those without to filter out various sensory input; they are unable to ignore their senses and therefore feel everything, creating a common challenge that can be particularly frightening for a child to go through. Having a dog there can create a focal point to help children with autism deal with these sensations and ground their overwhelming environmental experiences.
#2. Personal Safety:
Many children with autism have little or no concept of personal safety; they can wander outdoors, or unknowingly put themselves into dangerous situations if you take your eye off them for just one second. A dog is able to help with this; a trained, calm dog will protect the child from hazards. You can get special tethers and leashes, where the dog and the child can be harnessed together so that they can walk freely, however the child is more protected when out in public, with the adult holding the dog’s leash. Canna Companion is an excellent supplement to give to dogs who are put in these situations as it can help relieve any canine anxiety which will aid with training and performance.
#3. Improving Social Skills:
Children with autism often struggle when it comes to socialization; they are often unable to pick up on the social cues that those without autism can usually recognize instantly. Because of this, it’s not unusual for autistic children to also suffer from social anxiety; many are non-responsive to verbal cues and rarely speak. However, a dog is unlike a human in that a conversation is not expected, and there will be no judgement as to what your child says to them. Speaking to their dog can often help to bring autistic children out of their shell and help to improve their confidence in the world around them. A dog will offer unconditional love and patience – the type of support that any autistic child needs as they grow and develop.
Do you have an opinion or story to share on autism support dogs? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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