Sunday 18 February 2018

Trained dogs 'help social skills of autistic children'

Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

ASSISTANCE dogs help improve the positive reception of children to other children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a new study has found.

The trained dogs act as a bridge between children with impaired social and occupational functioning and their surroundings while facilitating family functions such as shopping.

Research, carried out by the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College Cork also found that the dogs improved the safety and security of children with ASD.

Rachel Neglia's son, Eoin, has ASD and she says that she has noticed a huge improvement in Eoin since he got his dog, Hector.

"When people see Eoin with the dog they are able to go up to him and say, 'Hi, what's your dog's name?', whereas before nobody would have approached him, so it helps him socially," she said.

She says that the golden doodle (half golden retriever, half poodle) gives Eoin companionship, responsibility and support.

Assistance dogs are trained at the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind centre in Cork. There are 188 assistance dogs registered in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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