Can Service Dogs Help Ease Autism Spectrum Disorder?

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Autism Spectrum Disorder is now a very common problem across the world. According to some studies, there has been a 331% increase in the cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder in children belonging to the age group 3-18. The surprising thing about this disorder is that its root cause is still not exactly known. However, it is suspected that one of the causes of this disorder may be due to some genetic disorder or due to some harmful substances that may have been eaten by the mother of the diagnosed child during her pregnancy. Some surveys show that among every 59 children, one child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States of America. There are various support groups that have been set up to help and care for such children.

Can dogs really help the disorder?

The use of dogs to help children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder is becoming more and more popular gradually. Service dogs are trained, each separately, to help the children diagnosed with any disability or disorder. The disability can be as trivial as a minor emotional or physical disability to something as mammoth as Autism Spectrum Disorder. These dogs are the best substitute for parents, who cannot take care of their children either because they are both working or due to some other unavoidable reasons.

What is the proof that these dogs really work?

According to some studies and researches by various reputed organizations, it is found that when children diagnosed with such a disorder are introduced to dogs, they tend to improve. It is because they play with them. They care for them, and learn how to interact with others. Hence, they develop a strong bond with their pet, and consequently, feel less lonely. When children are happy, they easily get over their shortcomings. So, keeping a service dog is indeed beneficial for both the child and the parent.

How are these dogs trained?

Dogs that prevent children from harming themselves are usually trained to come between the child and the source of harm, so that no injury is faced by the child. Also, there are some service dogs that are trained to know the diagnosed children strongly by scent, so that when the child wanders off without the notice of the parents, the dog can trace the child by his or her smell. The children who start wandering unnecessarily can be jeopardized by car accidents also, because children, mostly tend to run into the traffic and crowded areas. In case, the case of wandering is severe, tether trained service dogs can be used. These dogs can be tethered to a child, which ensures that the child does not run away unnecessarily. This also makes the child independent to walk freely near parents, as it is tethered by a dog. For children suffering from epilepsy along with Autism Spectrum Disorder, one can use service dogs which are trained to protect the children from pending seizures. It works by sensing the coming seizure and warning the parents, so that they can take the necessary action for the protection of their child.

How do dogs make them count?

Whenever a dog is introduced into a family containing one or more diagnosed child, they become more interactive and learn how to socialize. Hence, they learn the ways to live their lives independently. Also, bringing a service dog at home brings in a lot of much needed joy and peace of mind because service dogs act as a sigh of relief for the parents or the guardian of the diagnosed child. It takes a lot of the burden off their heads. Now they have to worry less about their diagnosed children as more than half of the job is being managed by a dog, and this way they can also cater to their responsibilities towards the society and live their lives. It becomes all the more beneficial when both the parents are working. They can work without any worry if they know there is someone who is taking care of their child, which is as good as they themselves would take. Also, if someone outdoors sees a child with a dog, they can quickly make out that the child may be suffering from some disorder. This makes them extra cautious for the safety of that child. This also minimizes the danger that the children might have to face. Sometimes, the bond between the child and the dog becomes so strong that the children who could not even speak before, start speaking being eager to express their feelings verbally and interact in a better way.

Where to get a service dog from?

Service dogs are carefully trained and are very helpful. Hence, it is a bit difficult to get them. It is because they are in high demand. Also, such dogs are usually quite expensive. But, these dogs are indeed worth the wait and the money spent on them. There are a lot of organizations in the United States of America, which train such dogs. It takes a lot of money to train these dogs. You need to do a lot of research to know where to buy the dog from and what dog is right for your child. It is because there is not a uniform standard of training service dogs for autism. You should buy them from reputed organizations like PAWS with a Cause. They clearly mention details like physical abilities, child’s age, restrictions on other pets, etc.

How to learn to accept the dog?

One should remember that such dogs are always a companion of the child suffering from autism. They are of great help while travelling or even at home. Service dogs are around for more than 10 years and have shown great results in curing autism. Hence, they deserve to be trusted. Remember that service dogs are beneficial for you and your child both. You should indeed consider bringing home a service dog!

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