The Remarkable Connection Between Dogs and Autistic Children

6C7135654-tdy-130411-xena-dog-2.blocks_desktop_mediumNew research shows that children with autism tend to develop strong bonds with dogs.

This is particularly remarkable when you consider that many children with autism spectrum disorders have a hard time with social interactions and making friends. The judgment-free, pressure-free love of a dog can help autistic children form a bond not only with that dog, but also with the people around them.

In the study, 2/3 of the families interviewed owned a dog, and 94 percent of those families reported that their autistic child had a bond with the family dog.

The researchers emphasized the importance that families with an autistic child make the decision to get a dog very carefully, and that they should consider the child's individual needs and sensitivities in order to pick a dog that is a good fit for the family.

I have seen firsthand the incredible power of a dog's love in the life of an autistic child. The story of Xena and Jonny is one that has personally touched my heart. Xena was rescued from the brink of death as an emaciated puppy, and was later adopted by the Hickey family, who have an autistic son named Jonny. Xena's presence in Jonny's life has helped him immensely, and the bond they share is simply beautiful. Xena was awarded the ASPCA Dog of the Year award in 2013, and she and Jonny are educating people all over the world about being kind to animals, and also about understanding and accepting children with autism spectrum disorders.

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Positively Expert: Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the internationally acclaimed TV series, It’s Me or the Dog. A bestselling author, Stilwell frequently appears in the media as a pet expert and is widely recognized and respected as a leader in the field of animal behavior.


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