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Children living with autism may see a benefit from interacting with animals, a non-threatening source of socialization, interaction, and positive engagement. In a recent study, children with autism responded with an astounding 55% more social behaviors when they were in the company of animals, as opposed to toys. Another suggests that bonding with an adopted pet after the age of five can increase a child's ability and desire to comfort and share with others...
Autism affects 1 in 88 children in the U.S., according to the CDC. Autism can cause a range of behavioral and communicative symptoms, from mild to debilitating, and as a society we are still striving to understand what causes it and how to treat it. Understanding and controlling emotion can be a huge hurdle for children with autism, but having an animal might just be an advantage in overcoming it.
Studies like these bring a deeper understanding of our relationship with animals, and open new doors to a world that is better for all of us. As if to illustrate the point, the story of a boy with autism and a rescued dog went viral not long ago. Before Xena came into his life, Johnny Hickey's autism rendered him quiet and uncomfortable speaking to people. Before she was adopted by the loving Hickey family, Xena was rescued in the nick of time.
When they bonded, Johnny at last found his voice, and Xena found her home.