Dogs are a ‘social lubricant’ in helping people with autism

Research published in the open access journal PLoS ONE indicates that the presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Autistic boy with dog

Previous studies have shown that people are more likely to receive overtures of friendship from strangers when walking a dog than when walking alone. The authors suggest that this ‘social lubricant’ effect of animals on human social interactions can be particularly important for individuals with socio-emotional disabilities.

In this study, the authors compared how 5-13 year old children with ASD interacted with adults and typically-developing peers in the presence of two guinea pigs compared to toys.  When the guinea pigs were present, the children were more likely to talk and look other people in the eye plus they smiled and laughed more often.

These results indicate that animal-assisted therapy programmes may be useful in helping children with ASD integrate into classrooms and other social environments.

Source:  Science Daily

2 responses to “Dogs are a ‘social lubricant’ in helping people with autism

  1. George L. Verge

    Reblogged this on George L. Verge and commented:
    Owning and interacting with animals doesn’t just serve mundane interests but can very easily be of benefit to our physical and mental / emotional well being. Do not take for granted their influence in our lives and in return do what you can to take care of these animals to the best of your ability. They deserve it, and so do we.

  2. Pingback: Dogs benefit children with autism | DoggyMom.com

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