The study in question was conducted by the University of Lincoln and was headed by veterinary behavioural medicine professor Daniel Mills. According to Mills, early results from the research suggested that any breed of dog could help to improve communication and relationships in families living with autism.
The University compared 20 families with dogs to 20 families without, and found dogs can help to improve eating, sleep and tantrum behaviour in children.
At a short three day Parents’ Autism Workshops and Support course, the families who were involved listed over a thousands ways their dogs had helped, from helping to establish a good routine through to using the pet to request an action in a non-confrontational manner.
However, Mills warned that despite positive feedback, little money has been invested into investigating the science behind the positive effect of mans best friend.
Dog for the Disabled, a charity which creates partnerships between people living with disability and specially trained assistance dogs, reported over 1,300 inquires in the past six months from parents asking how a dog could help their family.
The charity’s chief executive Peter Gorbing has said that dogs are relatively low-cost and low-tech.
“Now is our moment. People were previously sceptical of what role they could play, but recently I have found a more receptive audience. Things are changing rapidly”, added Gorbing.