Emotional support animals help children who suffer from autism. Unlike service dogs or animals, emotional support animals can be any kind of animal that does not necessarily have to be trained to help children with special needs.
If the emotional support animal you intend to keep for your autistic child is a dog, it may not be able to help your children with physical tasks, such as making calls and answering the door. However, they offer incredible emotional support and unconditional love to their handlers and autistic children. They provide reassuring companionship simply by being there for them. Not just that, these animals (particularly dogs) can sense a panic attack even before it takes its full swing and offer support to the children for making them feel better immediately.
Children with autism are usually incapable of filtering out sensory input, since they can see, hear, smell and feel everything all at once. This makes them unable to comprehend and differentiate between situations. When an emotional support animal, such as a dog, is by their side, it helps them by giving a focus to react appropriately to all environmental experiences.
How Do Emotional Support Animals Help?
Children dealing with autism do not possess a sense of personal safety. This often leads them to wander outdoors aimlessly. It is not uncommon to come across an autistic child standing in the middle of a traffic jam. A dog can help autistic children as the dog’s harness will be connected to the harness the children wear. This helps to train the child to hold a handle from the dog’s harness while an adult holds another leash to the dog. In this way, autistic children can be prevented from bolting in public.
Recent studies conclude that interacting with a pet greatly benefits autistic children. However, researchers have also observed the overall family dynamics and the child’s sensitivities must also be taken into account for accomplishing greater results. Previous trials involving children with autism established that children who bonded with a family pet from a young age showed to improved social skills. Research has also shown how social behaviors in autistic children progress after spending a short period with a live animal.
Parents are surprised to see a strong bond between an emotional support animal and their autistic child. They can spot the obvious difference between the behavior and social communication of their autistic child before and after keeping an emotional support animal. There are several reasons to keep an emotional support animal to help children who have autism. Also, an increasing number of airlines allow passengers to carry ESAs with the right documentation, which means your child can take the ESA along when you are traveling.
Benefits of Emotional Support
- Stability while walking
- Help to find places, such as car or home
- Help children to fall asleep if they suffer from insomnia
- Stops self-harming behaviors in autistic children
- Snuggles with autistic children when they are stressed or during a panic attack
- Can detect fire or smoke
- Help to guide around obstacles for visually challenged autistic children
Emotional support animals can be the link between an autistic child and the world around him. Emotional support animals, particularly dogs, are the best friends autistic children can have.
Since most emotional support animals are social, they help children suffering from autism to open up and interact with people. Autistic children are intimidated by real-life situations which involve a big crowd or dealing with different people. Emotional support animals can help with the gross delays hundreds of these children face in public or crowds with their unconditional love and support.
Brad Smith from TherapyPet.org