Comfort for Critters

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HABRI - An organization you should know!

HABRI stands for Human Animal Bond Research Institute and it’s one of my favorite websites to check out when I have a bit of extra time for reading. They are a non-profit research and education organization that shares, and often funds, scientific research that shows the positive impact pets have on our lives. Both physically and emotionally, our companion animals often help us as much as we help them!

This group is a great resource for easy to digest research on everything from pets helping kids with reading, to pets actually preventing allergies in children.  In a recent study they shared, the research strongly showed that individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are greatly helped by interacting with companion animals.

They cite one study which shows AAI (animal-assisted intervention) for children with ASD was effective in increasing both social functioning and safety. Children with ASD showed increased social awareness, interaction, motivation and better all-around social skills and behaviors, when they experienced animal-assisted intervention.

Another study found that when these children were in the presence of companion animals, they talked more, made more physical contact and more eye contact. They were also more receptive to socializing with their peers.

A separate, HABRI-funded, study looked specifically at the effects of pet dogs on families with children who have ASD. The results showed “significantly improved family functioning of families with a dog, compared to those without.”  The dysfunctional interactions between family members were also reduced. This study backs up previous research, which has shown that the introduction of assistance dogs to a family decreases problematic behavior, cuts stress for the parent, and gives the child an increased sense of security and independence.

Studies such as these, and organizations such as HABRI, can really promote the positive impact of pets on all our lives. This can only lead to better treatment of companion animals by our society and more recognition for all they quietly do to improve our lives.

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