Owning a pet may play a role in social skills development for some children with autism, a new study suggests.
The findings are among the first to investigate possible links between pets and social skills in kids with an autism spectrum disorder — a group of developmental disorders that affect a child’s ability to communicate and socialize.
“Research in the area of pets for children with autism is very new and limited. But it may be that the animals helped to act as a type of communication bridge, giving children with autism something to talk about with others,” said study author Gretchen Carlisle, a researcher at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders. “We know this happens with adults and typically developing children.”