Over the years, specialists have used domesticated animals as a calming tool to treat autism spectrum disorder (ASD); remarkably, the main role has been dogs, since doctors assure that these could emphasize the behavior of autistic children.
However, currently, felines are not far behind, a study by the American researcher Gretchen Carlisle revealed that cats can help increase empathy, while reducing separation anxiety, an influential factor in children with this condition.
The researcher's findings argue that domestic cats may have satisfying implications for families considering adopting a companion animal for their child.
Also, Carlisle noted that many autistic children have seizures and take different drugs, and find greater harmony when interacting with pets.
“Previous research has shown that parents of children with autism are more stressed than parents of children with any other disability. If a family is considering adopting a companion animal, we want to provide the best possible evidence-based information so that they can make an informed decision, and cats may be more beneficial than dogs for some families, ”he said.
The researcher and her study team carried out an exploration of attitudes on the part of the felines; in turn, they explained that the information about dogs is so vast that it was really important to examine the relationship with cats.
“Much is known about dogs, but very little about cats. This study allowed us to verify the benefits ”, explained a researcher from the team.
Meanwhile, families with autistic children aged 6 and 14 were summoned to carry out the research. After adopting a cat, these family groups were monitored in order to discover the changes that the pet could produce in the child's relationship with his own individuality and with the environment.
In this sense, the researchers note that the pets provided were chosen based on their temperament and behavior. The results indicated that the family groups not only reported the establishment of a close relationship between children and cats, but also a bond that was maintained over time and that, little by little, reduced anxiety in children with autism.
Another important factor they highlighted was “we discovered that the main benefit of these companion animals is their unconditional acceptance. Some children with autism may have sensory problems or be sensitive to loud noises, so a cat can be an appropriate and comforting pet for some families, due to its reassuring presence. "
The research team concluded to conclude the importance of pets for children with the condition of autism, also invited parents to offer their children the opportunity to live with a cat, since this will be very beneficial. "Less anxiety for children with ASD, a positive fact accompanied by a reduction in hyperactivity and inattention," said specialists.