Dog training

New research to investigate the impact of a service dog training program for children with autism and their families

More data demonstrating the benefits of service dogs for people with autism will allow families to make more informed decisions about how to support their family’s health and well-being.

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced funding for a new research project to assess the impact of a service dog training program and service dog pairing on children autism and their families. This grant was awarded to Gretchen Carlisle, Ph.D., of the Human-Animal Interaction Research Center, University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.

It is estimated that one in 44 children in the United States is born with autism spectrum disorder. Children with autism may have differences in social interaction and communication, and may also struggle with comorbid conditions such as anxiety. Behavioral care and supportive interventions are essential to help children with autism and their families. Scientific research demonstrates that the benefits of owning a dog for children with autism and their families can include increased social skills and reduced family stress, but there is a lack of research on the potential benefits of service dogs for this population.

“Service dogs represent a relatively new but increasingly popular approach to helping families that include a child with autism,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Carlisle. “This research will allow us to better understand the impact of these dogs on the health and well-being of children with autism and their families.”

Preliminary research conducted by Dr. Carlisle underscores the importance of families seeing their pet dogs as a good match with their children, for families to reap the benefits. Assistance dogs, with a high level of training and a predictable calm temperament, are theoretically more likely to be accepted as a good partner by a family that includes an autistic child. This study will use a cross-sectional survey of parents of autistic children. The data collected will be used to compare those who are on a waiting list to receive a service dog, those who are in training to be matched with a service dog and those who are already matched with a service dog. ‘assistance. A longitudinal study will also be conducted with parents of children with autism as they progress from the wait list through the training process and up to one year after pairing with a service dog.

“We expect children with autism and their families to benefit from participating in a service dog training program and being paired with a service dog, including showing reduced symptoms of autism, decreased anxiety and improved family function,” Dr. Carlisle explained. “We hope this research can be used to inform service dog training organizations and parents who are considering a service dog for their child with autism.”

“More data demonstrating the benefits of service dogs for people with autism will allow families to make more informed decisions about how to support their family’s health and well-being,” said Steven Feldman, president of HABRI. . “HABRI is proud to fund this University of Missouri project, which we hope will provide new evidence supporting the human-animal bond as a source of comfort and support for children with autism.”

About HABRI

HABRI is a non-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of research and information on human-animal bonding; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about research into human-animal bonds and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit http://www.habri.org.

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