Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children's best friend: Dogs help autistic children adapt, study shows

Date:
October 20, 2010
Source:
University of Montreal
Summary:
Dogs may not only be man's best friend, they may also have a special role in the lives of children with special needs. According to a new study, specifically trained service dogs can help reduce the anxiety and enhance the socialization skills of children with autism syndrome disorders. The findings may be a relatively simple solution to help affected children and their families cope with these challenging disorders.

Dogs may not only be man's best friend, they may also have a special role in the lives of children with special needs. According to a new Université de Montreal study, specifically trained service dogs can help reduce the anxiety and enhance the socialization skills of children with Autism Syndrome Disorders (ASDs).

Related Articles


The findings, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, may be a relatively simple solution to help affected children and their families cope with these challenging disorders.

"Our findings showed that the dogs had a clear impact on the children's stress hormone levels," says Sonia Lupien, senior researcher and a professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress at Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital, "I have not seen such a dramatic effect before."

Cortisol the telltale indicator of stress

To detect stress-levels, Lupien and colleagues measured the amount of cortisol present in the saliva of autistic children. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the body in response to stress. It peaks half-hour after waking up, known as the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and decreases throughout the day. Moreover, it is detectable in the saliva, which makes sampling its levels easy.

The researchers measured the CAR of 42 children with ASD. "CAR is a very useful marker of stress," say Lupien. "We used it to determine the effect of service dogs on the children's stress levels by measuring it in three experimental conditions; prior to and during the introduction of a service dog to the family, and after the dog was removed."

Cortisol and behaviour linked

Throughout the experiment, parents were asked to complete a questionnaire addressing the behaviours of their children before, during and after the introduction of the dog. On average, parents counted 33 problematic behaviours prior to living with the dog, and only 25 while living with the animal.

"Introducing service dogs to children with ASD has received growing attention in recent decades," says Lupien. "Until now, no study has measured the physiological impact. Our results lend support to the potential behavioural benefits of service dogs for autistic children."

This study was funded by MIRA Foundation, Quebec, Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert Viau, Geneviève Arsenault-Lapierre, Stéphanie Fecteau, Noël Champagne, Claire-Dominique Walker, Sonia Lupien. Effect of service dogs on salivary cortisol secretion in autistic children. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2010; 35 (8): 1187 DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.02.004

Cite This Page:

University of Montreal. "Children's best friend: Dogs help autistic children adapt, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019121814.htm>.
University of Montreal. (2010, October 20). Children's best friend: Dogs help autistic children adapt, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019121814.htm
University of Montreal. "Children's best friend: Dogs help autistic children adapt, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019121814.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) — Ancient techniques of growing greens with fish and water are well ahead of Toronto bylaws. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chihuahua Sleeps on Top of Great Dane

Chihuahua Sleeps on Top of Great Dane

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) — As this giant Great Dane lays down for bedtime he accompanied by an adorable companion. Watch a tiny Chihuahua jump up and prepare to sleep on top of his friend. Now that&apos;s a pretty big bed! Credit to &apos;emma_hussey01&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Locust Plague Could Mean Famine For Millions

Madagascar Locust Plague Could Mean Famine For Millions

Newsy (Jan. 27, 2015) — The Food and Agriculture Organization says millions could face famine in Madagascar without more funding to finish locust eradication efforts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

AP (Jan. 27, 2015) — A Texas woman who lost more than five pounds of flesh to a shark in the Bahamas earlier this month could be released from a Florida hospital soon. Experts believe she was bitten by a bull shark while snorkeling. (Jan. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins