Cats May Improve Social Skills in Kids with Autism
Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and
communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.
Adopting a cat can make a big difference for kids with autism, new research suggests.
Children with the developmental disorder have shown increased empathy and experienced fewer
problem behaviors after welcoming a pet cat into their homes. They also displayed less separation
anxiety, externalizing, bullying and hyperactivity or inattention.
The findings come from a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing looking at 11 families
with children with autism ages 6 to 14. Four of the families adopted a cat from a shelter right away
and were followed for 18 weeks. The remaining families were monitored for the initial 18-week
period at which point they adopted shelter cats and were followed for another 18 weeks.
All of the families adopted cats who were screened using a feline temperament profile to ensure
that they were calm animals. Surveys were conducted every six weeks to assess the children’s social
skills and anxiety as well as how well the parents and their kids bonded with their new pets.
Not only did the children with autism see improvements in their social skills, but both kids and
their parents forged strong bonds with their cats and those bonds remained over time.
Previously, a research was done on the interaction between dogs and children with autism which
did not provide the best fit for the children and their families, especially given the
hypersensitivities to sound that are common among children with autism.
Article by:silas abbas