I’ve read about pets aiding PTSD-afflicted soldiers, boosting spirits for the elderly, and teaching kids how to be responsible and empathetic to other creatures. I’ve long since found animals good for my own mental health, too.
A French study now shows that pets can help autistic kids with their social skills, confirming what many found anecdotally true for some time. According to a story in U.S. News and World Report:
Pets may promote pro-social behavior by acting as “distracters,” [study author Marine] Grandgeorge suggested.
“When a human is in a stressful situation, a pet seems to distract him/her from the [anxiety-producing] stimulus,” she explained.
Another possibility is that the pet may help the child learn how to interpret communication signals and cues, enabling them to adjust their behavior, she added.
Score one for pets and autistic kids out there who could use a hand. Or a paw.
Photo: adamknits on Flickr