My son was diagnosed with Autism

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My son was diagnosed as having autism.  I really wanted to know if you know how effective keeping a pretty cat or dog might be in helping him develop and grow. I have read of its benefits but can you tell me what you know from the research?

Usicko Admin Answered question December 13, 2021

Hello and thank you for your question about the effect cats or dogs
have on a child with autism – concerning growth and development.

You happen to have hit on an area I am very interested in as one of my staff members is a researcher in this area. She works with children who have autism, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS. A moment ago I called her to ask a summary of her research. It is in Japanese, so, unfortunately, I can’t share it with you in English. The summary is basically:

1. Both dogs and cats have benefits for children with autism.
2. Often children feel more comfortable talking with animals first before they can talk with humans. One reason for this is that they are great listeners, and eye contact is never an issue.
3. Dogs tend to result in more social interaction for the child. This is because cats like to stay inside, so the child may choose to stay inside with the cat. However, dogs need to be walked. Walking the dog teaches responsibility, and people are naturally drawn to dogs. This results in interactive conversation. (Both dogs and cats like to be cuddled, so this is good for encouraging interaction too)

You may have read some articles about dogs and cats – here are ones I liked:


Nine Ways Therapy Dogs Can Help Kids with Autism


Regarding the care of your son, I have found through my university research that parents who participate in social skills training programs early can help their autistic children to interact more quickly than parents who decided to do nothing. Always, the more informed parents were successful in helping their children in social (and physical) development.

Usicko Admin Changed status to publish December 13, 2021