Animal Friends Soothe Autistic Children
Relief for Stressful Social Situations
According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) now affects about 1 in every 68 children in the U.S., up from 1 in 150 in 2000. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls. Contact with animals may help ameliorate this troubling trend. A recent study of 114 children between 5 and 12 years old has found that autistic children having greater contact with animals have less anxiety related to social situations.
The research was led by Marguerite O’Haire, Ph.D., from the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at the College of Veterinary Medicine of Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana. Colleagues from the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, Australia, also participated in the study.
The researchers divided the 114 children into 38 groups of three. Each group had one ASD child and two children without ASD. Skin conductance, which provides an objective way for researchers to gauge social anxiety, was measured among the children as they read silently and aloud. As expected, skin conductance was significantly higher among the ASD children as they read aloud in front of their peers. In successive sessions, when researchers introduced pet guinea pigs for the children to pet prior to their readings, the ASD children’s skin conductance levels dropped significantly.
“Previous studies suggest that in the presence of companion animals, children with autism spectrum disorders function better socially,” says James Griffin, Ph.D., of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. “This study provides physiological evidence that the proximity of animals eases the stress that children with autism may experience in social situations.”
Edit ModuleShow Tags
More from Natural Awakenings
Adopting some of the ways of our grandparents and great-grandparents, such as reusing items and conserving resources, can contribute toward habits that are better not only for the planet, but also for our health.
The North Shore Wellness Body, Mind & Spirit Expo unites people from all over the region, making new connections with alternative health practitioners easy, stress-free and fun.
Each of us perceives reality through the filter of a personal self, an “I” that is unique in the world, thanks to the unique experiences we’ve had since birth.
Radio Station FM 102.1 will present the second annual VegOut Health Fest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 11, at the Miller High Life Theater Rotunda, in downtown Milwaukee.
Join New York Times bestselling author Deepak Chopra as he addresses topics like how to control one’s own reality and manifest dreams at the highest level, all while providing practical ways to experience transformation and healing.
From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 27, Milwaukee Riverkeeper will proudly host their 24th annual Spring River Cleanup with nearly 4,000 volunteers joining together across the Milwaukee River Basin to get outdoors, pick up trash and help to achieve swimmable, fishable rivers.
Kristine Hansen traveled extensively throughout the state interviewing cheesemakers and learning about how they continue traditions going back several generations.
Throughout the month of April, the Urban Ecology Center will promote sustainability initiatives through Milwaukee Earth Month.
National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin, a nonprofit serving blind and low-vision people across the state, has received a grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation to create opportunities for individuals to participate in the National Fitness Challenge.
Adorable as new kittens are, they need the right conditions, from bedding to food to scratching surfaces—and a proper introduction to their new home—to thrive.
In a time in which digital devices often rule, kids will happily head outdoors for adventures involving gardens, bugs and birds that spark their interest and creativity.
Using phone apps as well as workplace and neighborhood contacts, friends and strangers are coming together to share healthy, home-cooked meals.