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Cats Can Help Kids with ASD

Having a cat can help children with ASD.

ASD, or autism spectrum disorder, is a group of developmental conditions that occur in people, and it is often diagnosed in childhood. ASD generally results in problems with social development and communication as well as many other things. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Cats Can Help with Social Development in Kids with ASD

In a 2012 study (Marine Grandgeorge, 2012), French researchers found that kids whose homes welcomed a pet after the child turned five years old were more likely to be better at sharing and offering comfort to other people than ASD kids who didn't have a pet or had one before the age of five.

Not only that, but parents reported that these positive behaviors became even more pronounced as the child's relationship with the pet grew stronger.

Why Are Cats Able to Help Autistic Kids?

Some of the reasons that researchers hypothesize that cats can help kids on the autism spectrum include:

  • Kids feel less pressure when dealing with cats than with people.
  • Cats can give the child something to focus on, easing the way for social interactions with the people in the room.
  • Caring for a cat gives the child a low-stress way to learn about empathy and other emotions.
  • Having a new pet leads to positive interactions for the whole family together surrounding that pet's care and playtime.

More studies are being planned to help further delineate how and why cats and other pets help kids with ASD.

Works Cited

  1. Marine Grandgeorge, S. T. (2012, Aug. 1). Does Pet Arrival Trigger Prosocial Behaviors in Individuals with Autism? Retrieved from Plos One.

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