I always wanted my Mom and Dad to get my sister Jennifer a dog. Unfortunately, my Mom is extremely allergic to dogs, and we had a difficult time finding service dogs specially trained to work with autistic children that were also hypoallergenic. In the past, this blog talked about research that showed service and therapy dogs help individuals on the spectrum become more social.
Besides improving social skills, other studies have also shown that service dogs reduce stress in children with autism, yet another reason to get a service dog for your loved one! One study compared the cortisol levels of forty two individuals on the autism spectrum before they spent time with service dogs and during their time with service dogs. The cortisol levels significantly decreased when the children in the study spent time with service dogs specially trained to help autistic individuals. Perhaps even better, parents also reported a decrease in their child problematic and disruptive behaviors! It makes sense that a decrease in stress leads to a decrease in disruptive behaviors.
I think Jennifer would have loved to have a dog, and I would have loved a dog that kept her out of trouble. Service dogs are certainly not the “golden bullet” to all of your problems, but as you can see they may be able to help your loved one on the spectrum in multiple ways.