Autism Spectrum Disorder is a wide range of mental and social disorders. Alternative therapies are the primary form of intervention that promotes a positive outcome. Pet therapy has helped in redeveloping partial social and communication skills and in managing the patient’s behaviour considerably. The idea of an animal assisted therapy for autism can heal the minds and bodies. The patients with autism can experience instant gratification when they have a pet. In short, between humans and animals, the happiness-making is reciprocal.
Animals are a source of comfort in our homes! They now also assist in healing mental health in patients with autism and other neurological disorders. Animal assisted therapy for autism has garnered attention for attaining goals such as developing social skills, refining their self-esteem and providing help during the time of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.
Not only are the pets trained to take care of their individual owners, but they also bring about a positive effect on their mental health.
Animal Therapy Programs
Animal-assisted therapy is engaged by various social groups, counsellors, and professionals by introducing animal interaction. Animal assisted therapy is prescribed for treating neurological disorders – some of which are as follows:
- Heart disease
- Chronic pain
- Psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia
- Various developmental disorders
- Emotional and behavioural disorders
It has been noticed that an introduction to animals increases oxytocin, known as the love hormone, helping the patients to get adjusted in a non-threatening environment. With the increased levels of oxytocin, due to interaction with animals, patients have shown improvement in their:
- Social relationship
- Blood pressure level
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Stress level
- Fear and anxiety
When used alongside other therapies, animal related therapy has proved to be an effective tool in providing the needed comfort to the patients with autism who feel shy to communicate. This is one of the specialized treatment in the improvement of mental health field.
The most common impairments faced by patients with autistic reside in the drawback of social development. For forming social bonds and relationships, they need to overcome their feeling isolation. Animal therapy promotes emotion regulation and community integration in the patients. Therapy animals work as a tool in encouraging and managing their emotions as well as the pro-social conduct for progress.
What Are the Benefits?
A majority of studies related to ASD and pet therapy, with domestic animals such as dogs, cats or horses have shown positive effects. This animal-assisted therapy has helped to:
- Promote emotional improvement
- Support the development of responsive expression
- Improve social interaction
- Enhance communication skills
- Ease anxiety
- Boost confidence
- Ease anxiety
- Reduces the feeling of sadness, loneliness, insecurity, anger, etc.
Nevertheless, the animal therapeutic approach is not intended to replace medicine and other recovery approaches such as stem cell therapy. This works as an effective auxiliary program that may develop into an essential practice for numerous health related disorders.