Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dogs May Help Autistic Children Develop Social-Interaction Skills

Adopting a dog may help an autistic child develop more normal social-interaction skills. A group of French researchers reported online in PLoS ONE yesterday the results of their evaluation of the association between the presence or arrival of pets in families with a child who has autism and the changes in that person's prosocial behaviors. They used parental interviews to assess the subjects' social impairment and found that an autistic child's ability to "offer to share" and to "offer comfort"—both items that reflect prosocial behaviors—changed positively with the presence of a canine companion.

"These findings open further lines of research on the impact of a pet’s presence or arrival in families with an individual with autism," they said. "Given the potential ability of individuals with autism to develop prosocial behaviors, related studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms involved in the development of such child-pet relationship."

For more information about aspects of social development in children with autism, see the Textbook of Autism Spectrum Disorders, available from American Psychiatric Publishing, here
(Image: Blaj Gabriel/


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