Animal-Assisted Therapy for Children Diagnosed with Autism

There are many benefits of animal-assisted therapy and this time we look at how they can help children with autism. Read on and find out how!
Animal-Assisted Therapy for Children Diagnosed with Autism

Last update: 23 May, 2019

On numerous occasions, we’ve mentioned the many benefits of different types of animal-assisted therapy for children. These animals can help people diagnosed with terminal illnesses and behavioral problems, although they mainly use trained dogs here.

In today’s article we’ll be looking at how they can help children in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We’ll see what kind of animals are trained for this purpose are – read on and find out more!

Animal-assisted therapy for autistic children

A couple of children petting a dog.

Several studies have discovered how much people with autism benefit from animal-assisted therapy. Particularly when it includes dogs and horses.

Furthermore, the benefits of using other types of animals in these therapies are also recognized and demonstrated. It may be true that dogs and horses are the easiest animals to bring into our environment. However, there are many other species that are quite useful as well. We’re about to tell you which animals these are and explain why they bring so many benefits to children with ASD.


Dogs are crowdpleasers and so are very easy to train. In addition, they’re experts at displaying affection and attention towards humans. They don’t need to say anything for us to know that they love us, that they need us, or that they feel loved. The perfect co-dependent match.

Not only can they provide companionship to autistic children, but they’ll easily learn how to follow instructions from these children. Thus, an autistic child will no longer be a dependent being, but instead, another being will depend on him.

Obviously, these dogs must be in good shape to do so, physically and mentally. Also, if a family with a child diagnosed with ASD decides to adopt a regular untrained dog it will also bring many benefits to their lives.

The dog breeds most often used in this therapy are Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

Horse therapy for children

Horses are mainly used for people who have balance and mobility problems. But they also influence communication and behavior directly. This happens because the horse is an intelligent animal, quite capable of understanding when humans communicate with them.

So, it’s very simple for an animal and rider to bond. In fact, they often become great friends. Any child will find a friend in a horse, a friend they can talk to and trust.

In addition, they have a keen empathy, and this favors the social integration of an autistic child. In addition to that, it has a great ability to adapt to change, and to different scenarios and circumstances.

Animal-assisted therapy for children with dolphins

A girl swimming with dolphins.

Some say that the dolphin is the most intelligent animal out there. Not only that, but dolphins are also happy-go-lucky and fun, quite capable of brightening anyone’s day. Research on the subject indicates that interacting with dolphins improves concentration and communication skills.

Animal-assisted therapy has been around the USA and several European countries for many years. It’s now easier to expand it into other countries.

These three species of animals are the most used for animal-assisted therapy in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, the use of other species that can also improve the lives of these children is still undergoing tests. Such animals include sea lions, fish, rabbits, cats, etc.

Hopefully, there will be enough funding that will allow them to continue this valuable training. Not only with animals, but also with any other ways of improving the quality of life of anyone who needs them.

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The Benefits of Using Dogs in Animal-Assisted Therapy
My Animals
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The Benefits of Using Dogs in Animal-Assisted Therapy

Have you heard of using dogs in animal-assisted therapy? Learn here about how dogs are used, and the many social, emotional and physical benefits.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.