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).

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 April 17, 2014 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 April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) — Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) — Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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