Dogs are domesticated animals that commonly taken as pet by people. This is due to their friendly and cooperative nature that make them a good pet, and they often behave well with other pets, even the other animals are from different family (e.g. cats, horse, reptile, etc). Their reputation as trusty pet should not be questioned.
Dogs are also useful as companion in hunting, herding, tracking, police investigation, military tasks, security, and recently they also help aiding people with mental disorder, for example autism.
That’s right. Based on researches, dogs can help stimulate the people with autism. The type of dogs used in this autism treatment is therapy dogs, not service dogs (the kind that you will adopt as pet). Therapy dogs can be an alternative of autism treatment, they are one of many mediums used in hospitals or mental health facilities.
They are believed to help autistic person improve their social interaction. Beside the help of mental health care worker, a group of dogs also employed to assist the care giver with the task. Many mental health institutions are beginning to adopt this method of using therapy dogs. (Recommended : Benefits Bringing Your Pet to Work)
Well, without further ado, let’s find out the benefits of therapy dogs for autism treatment :
The Qualification of Therapy Dogs for Autism Treatment
Based on veterinarian reports, before a dog can be employed in animal assisted therapy, it must first be trained and qualified for the assigned task. In this case, the dog used for autism treatment must be a group of therapy dogs.
Therapy dogs generally have been taught special training, e.g. the anticipation of sudden loud or strange voices, how to walk in a strange surface normally, how to not frightened by people with hospital equipment such as wheelchair, IV poles, stretcher, canes, etc, and other related training. That means, the service dog can not be used for this task, let alone a stray dog. (See also : Health Benefits of Cassava Bread)
Well, that’s the qualification of therapy dogs. Here are some benefits of therapy dogs for autism treatment :
1. They reduce the symptoms of autism
Scientifically speaking, every animal assisted therapy are mean to reduce the symptoms of people with mental disorder. The therapy dogs for autism is no exception.
These dogs have trained to assist the care worker in reducing symptoms of autistic people, which means it will improve the condition of the patient. It is also has been approved by mental health experts that therapy dogs be employed in this treatment.
2. Therapy dogs help change the autistic person’s behavior
Another one of the benefits of therapy dogs for autism treatment. As reported by psychotherapists, repetitive behavior such as stacking or lining up objects, head rolling, body shaking, etc are often associated with autism. To fix this behavior, therapy dogs can be employed for autism treatment.
These dogs help the patient by dynamically interacting with them. This dynamic interaction combined with the dogs nature hopefully will change the repetitive behavior of the autistic person. The interaction between the patient and the dogs might improve the patient’s condition. (Recommended : Benefits of Mint Leaves for Diabetes)
3. They help improve the motoric nerves of autistic person
Based on scientists’ reports, autistic people are known to have poor motoric coordination, poor muscular tone, bad motor walking, and toe walking.
One of the methods of treatment for this is using therapy dogs. It is believed that the therapy dogs’ interaction with the autistic person can stimulate and improve the motorist signs of the said autistic person. So, as a result, the person with autism will have better muscle coordination and better behavior.
4. Therapy dogs help improve the patient’s social skill
Another good benefits of therapy dogs for autism treatment. When treating patients with autism, it is important to stimulate their social skill by actively communicate and interact with them. Beside interaction with human, interacting with therapy dogs also helps in autism treatment.
According to some researches, the therapy dogs’ barking sound, and animalistic behavior can stimulate and improve the social skill of the person with autism. The result of this treatment is they (the autistic people) will have better understanding of surrounding environment. (You may want to read : Benefits of Black Zircon Stone)
5. They help get rid of patient’s anxiety
Believe it or not, people with mental disorder such as autism also have some kind of anxiety. Although anxiety is not the origin of their mental disabilities, it can make the their condition worse.
So, they need help to get rid of their anxiety. Taking them to a mental health institution is first thing the parents (or close relatives) must do. The patients then will receive some therapy from mental health care worker, including therapy with trained dogs.
The therapy dogs hopefully can help the person with autism deal with his or her anxiety, thus their psychological condition will improve.
6. They give the patients the feeling of safety
Based on analysis, certain behavior of animals (therapy dogs in this case) may give the patients with autism the feeling of safety from threatening situation. This statement stems from the theory that calm, resting, and peaceful behavior of animals (including trained dogs) may indicates the security that affect human mind into thinking that all is safe and done.
This phenomenon in turn may trigger the change of psychological state in patients with dissabilities e.g. autism, down syndrome, ADHD, etc. (Recommended : Benefits of Blue Dream Weed)
7. Therapy dogs help the autistic patient with their activities
In a mental health institution where the patient with autism is in treatment, the care giver or nurse assigned some tasks to the autistic patients to keep them busy or active with activities.
This is where therapy dogs might be useful. They assist the patients doing their activities. So, in turn, it will teach them about teamwork, empathy, and social awareness.
Recommendations in Using Therapy Dogs for Autism Treatment
The mental health provider must ensure the therapy dogs are well-trained, as to avoid future difficulties and convenience. The patients also must be under nurse or care giver supervision to help them interacting with the dogs.