April is National Autism Awareness Month, and it is a reminder that autism is becoming increasingly common, with the CDC reporting in 2021 that 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with autism. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for a better long-term outlook for those individuals with autism. There are many tools and treatments which can enable these individuals to live full, happy lives. Emotional support and service animals are one resource which may help benefit individuals with autism.
Anxiety and Depression
Those with autism often struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. The companionship of a dog, cat, or other animal has been proven to reduce anxiety, curb depression, and help with many other mental illnesses. A psychiatric service dog is a service dog that is trained to perform tasks and services related to a person’s mental illness. They can remind people to take medication, lay on them during panic attacks, interrupt PTSD episodes, wake them up from nightmares, and many other things. A person with autism struggling with a mental illness could potentially benefit from having a psychiatric service dog or even just an emotional support animal.
Social Skill Development
About 30% of individuals with autism are non-verbal, and many struggle with communication and social settings. Research has shown that having a dog helps increase social skills in children, making them more outgoing and assertive. Having a dog or other animal can massively benefit a child with autism socially.
When individuals with autism experience meltdowns or outbursts, a service dog or emotional support animal can provide comfort by snuggling with or laying on the person’s lap to help them calm down. Service dogs can be trained to respond to the sound of crying and go into public with the individual in case they have an episode.
People with autism may wander or run away from caregivers, sometimes in public, and get lost and find themselves in unsafe predicaments. A service dog can be trained to track the individual down if they are lost. A service dog can also help prevent an individual from bolting by being physically tethered to the individual in some way, making it harder for them to run.
Interrupting Repetitive Behavior
An emotional support animal or service dog can be trained to interrupt repetitive behavior, a common struggle for those with autism. This is especially helpful for those who struggle with repetitive self-harming behaviors.
As discussed, an emotional support animal or service dog can greatly benefit someone with autism and help manage their symptoms and mental health struggles. Getting an emotional support animal letter of certification or service dog registration kit has never been easier with the help of United Support Animals. Contact one of our trained professionals today about getting your letter of certification.