Dogs are highly in tune with the world around them. Dogs can sense depression in humans and react when they cry. Can dogs sense autism in humans, though? Let’s find out.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects the way people communicate with others, behave toward them, and learn. It’s a neurological and developmental disorder that can start at any age, but the symptoms usually appear before the first two years of life.
Can Dogs Sense Autism in Humans?
No, dogs cannot sense autism in humans. Dogs can sense body language, facial expressions, and behaviors, which may differ between people. That’s why some dogs respond differently to people with autism since their body language, behaviors, and facial expressions are different.
Now you know the answer is no to the question: can dogs sense autism in humans?
If the reason you were asking this question is that you’ve seen your dog act differently around your baby or toddler, you can rest assured it’s unlikely your dog is truly sensing autism. While your child may have autism and exhibit the symptoms of it, which is what is making your dog act differently, your dog is not sensing something from inside your child to suggest there’s a problem.
The best way to find out if your child has a pervasive developmental disorder is to speak with the pediatrician.
How Dogs Respond to People with Autism
Dogs learn from their experiences – just like people do. That means that when dogs interact with autistic kids, they learn what their behaviors mean to them. For instance, many autistic children engage in repetitive behaviors. Depending on the behavior, the dog will either come up to the child for comfort or run away if feeling as though there’s a chance he/she will be hurt.
Unconditional love is such a huge trademark for dogs that even if the child accidentally hurts or scares a dog, the dog will still love the child. That’s one of the many reasons people with autism decide to get a dog.
Benefits of Dogs for Autistic Children
Dogs offer many benefits to children with developmental disabilities like autism. The following are some of the benefits of dogs for autistic children.
Improve or Learn Proper Social Interaction
The most common difficulty among people with autism is social interaction. Autistic children have a hard time understanding and learning social skills, which can cause problems when interacting with others.
Many families with autistic children decide to get a pet dog to help with social interactions. A pet dog seeks attention from people and the response that is given teaches how to behave toward others.
For instance, when a dog approaches an autistic kid, an adult can teach the child to let the dog sniff the hand. After that, the child can be taught to gently pet the dog’s head.
With training (on the part of the dog and autistic child), they can learn to interact with one another. That training can then be extended toward other social communication – just in a different way.
Children with autism also learn human-animal interactions when they have a pet dog. While many children without autism understand quickly how to behave around animals, autistic children do not. Parents who decide to get a dog for their child with autism help them understand how to treat and behave around animals.
When someone with autism is having a difficult time controlling their response to an anxiety-provoking situation, a dog can intervene effectively and quickly by being a distraction to the stimulus that caused the problem.
Animal-assisted interventions are known to be so effective that people often use dogs for emotional support as therapy dogs.
Benefits of Dogs for Autistic People
Many autistic people decide to get an autism service dog. An autism service dog can go everywhere with their owner as their emotional support animal.
The purpose of service dogs is to provide comfort and support in situations that may cause anxiety. Studies have shown that petting a dog can reduce stress levels and blood pressure. This can come in handy when in social situations, which can make exhibiting proper social skills easier.
Many people who decide to get a therapy dog decide to get a trained service dog instead of doing the training themselves. You can find many professional dog training businesses across the nation that have therapy dogs available for purchase. Check out this website for more information.
Best Dogs for People with Autism
When deciding on what dog breed to get as an assistance dog, the National Autistic Society reports the following three breeds are the best for people with autism:
- Labrador Retrievers
- Border Collies
- Miniature Schnauzers
Dog Ownership Guide suggests doing your research before choosing the right dog for you and your family. Learn more about active vs non active dog breeds and if you should adopt a dog from a shelter vs. breeder.
Dogs Can’t Sense Autism in Humans, But…
So, while dogs can’t sense autism in humans, they do sense the differences between people who have autism and those who do not have it. This isn’t a big deal because dogs learn how to react to people based on what they do and how they act.
Many parents with autistic children decide to get a dog because it can help children in many ways with social behaviors.
Adults with autism decide to become dog owners because they benefit from the emotional support they provide them. A companion animal for someone with autism can help reduce anxiety and prevent dysfunctional behavior.
When looking at the big picture of autism and dogs, it’s plain to see that the positive effects of having a dog around someone with autism is a good idea.
Families seeking pet ownership should consider a dog for their autistic child instead of another companion animal such as a guinea pig.