The family dog could provide as much benefit to children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as specially trained service and therapy dogs, an Ottawa researcher has found.
"Service dogs are very expensive," said Cosmin Coltea, a masters student in developmental psychology at Carleton University.
Coltea, who also works as a dog trainer, said he wants to continue to study the benefits of companion animals for people with ASD as he pursues a doctorate in developmental psychology.
Coltea examined the experiences of 20 families and found that, just like specially trained dogs, companion dogs provide emotional support, reduce stress and help children with ASD learn to express their emotions and take responsibility.
Tim Delyea's 10-year-old son, Ryan, has Aspergers Syndrome. At first Ryan didn't want a dog, but that didn't last long, Tim said.
"He's actually expressing his feelings now, talking about how he loves her -- which he never did before," said Tim.