Donate now.

Every mother dreams about their children’s future. When they are special, the dream of being independent, graceful, happy, bright kids and also “socially adapted” is almost a fantasy. You guys made that fantasy a reality. Look at Kyle and Kayden. We will always be thankful.Linetty
Mother of Kyle and Kayden
How Pets Can Enhance Social and Emotional Development in Children and Adolescents with Autism

Submitted by Tiffany Francese-Sears, MA, LMHC,

Experts say a child's physical, social, emotional and cognitive development can all be encouraged by interaction with the family pet. Having a pet helps children improve their motor skills and also increases overall activity. For children, pets can be wonderful for socializing. Children are more prone to approach and interact with another child who is playing with an animal, so a pet can be the bridge between a less socially outgoing child and other potential playmates.

Kittens and puppies aren't the only pets that can help children make friends. Other kinds of pets, including rabbits and snakes, can also be catalysts for making friends and finding social support. Having a pet might also encourage a child to learn more about animals in general and in turn foster an appreciation for research and science.

Service animals are another option for individuals with Autism. However the cost, wait list, training time, and commitment may be obstacles for many families. Adopting a pet is a huge commitment and shouldn't be taken lightly. Keep in mind that just as the general population has allergies to or dislike pets, the same can be true for children with autism, so it is necessary to ease the child into the new situation to “test the waters.” It is important to think about this decision as it will affect the entire family, but it might be one of the best things you could do for your child.