Animals Help Autistic Children
Autism as a medical condition requires a range of specialized approaches. While there are medications currently available in the market that are designed to address various symptoms, there are other alternative approaches to the treatment of autism. One such alternative approach is the use of animal therapy. In this paper, the author explores this approach and states that by looking at the needs of autistic children, and placing them side by side with the responses that animals evoke, an argument can be made for the claim that animals do help autistic children. The discussion begins with a brief description of autism, and then proceeds to outline how children with such conditions may benefit from animal therapy.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
More appropriately referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, because it covers a range of neurological developmental disorders, it is characterized by an impaired ability to communicate socially, often with patterns of behavior that may be restricted or repetitive.
The treatment for children with ASD is generally acknowledged to be more beneficial for the child if the intervention is given as early as possible. These come in the form of educational and behavioral interventions, where structured sessions help develop social skills. Medications are also used, though this approach is usually geared towards addressing symptoms that are related to autism, such as anxiety, and depression.
Generally, it can be argued that because having pets requires an interactive environment, children with ASD can be helped to develop social skills through such interactions. Consider how the three main areas of difficulty - social interactions, communication, and repetitive behavior - are addressed through animal intervention. Children slowly learn to interact with animals in a caring and responsible manner. They also begin to develop communication and language skills, as they take care of pets, and consequently, there is a gradual modification from antisocial behavior to a more social one. However, the type of animal is an important consideration in this form of intervention, because some research has revealed some animals to have a calming effect on children with ASD. Guinea pigs are shown to have such an effect, and is therefore, a preferable choice as a pet.
It can be seen that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD require specialized interventions in the areas of social interactions, communication, and behavior. By looking at how animals provide a positive environment in these areas, as well as on the potential calming effect that they have on children, it can be argued that indeed, animal therapy can help children with autism through behavioral and linguistic development.
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