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Scientists Study How Animals Help Autism

kid-with-petWhile service dogs for autistic kids paw their way into the classroom, scientists have decided to finally study the link between kids and their pets.

Sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the study is meant to go beyond anecdotal evidence that therapy animals have a positive affect on kids, especially those with autism.

It could be an important step not only for treating kids but in providing parents with the scientific backing to get their kids’ therapy dogs admitted in places where a traditional service dog is currently allowed.

Kids like Carter Kalbfleisch, a five-year-old child with autism whose parents spent the summer jumping in the court system because their son’s school district was denying him his dog. The family won, but legal wrangling might well have been avoided if medical protocols called for the animal they say has made all the difference in their son’s life.

Beyond the benefits for families of autistic children, the study hopes to address why some children reap benefits from relationships with animals while others do not – pointing to the use of pet therapy in a variety of families.

You don’t have to have an autistic child to know that pets can enhance a child’s early development of empathy, kick in kindness skills and offer them a shoulder (or soft furry head) to cry on.

What do your kids get from their pets?

Image: Pets and Kids

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