Autism Today

3 reasons dogs are best friends with people on the autism spectrum

The extent of dog-human camaraderie goes up by a notch when autism enters the equation. The neurodevelopmental disorder, while still being a puzzle to many of us, manifests in ways that are completely natural and relatable to our canine friends. Here are 3 common personality traits that bring dogs and individuals with autism closer to each other.

Better understanding of non-verbal communication

Spoken words can be ambiguous, misleading, unintelligible or heavily influenced by the way they are intonated by the speaker. However, physical gestures almost always reflect the actual state of an individual’s mind. Many children with autism tend to throw tantrums or get confused when spoken to. Likewise, barring a few commands such as come, go, sit, jump, etc., dogs do not understand most of the words humans use and they especially do not make sense of mixed signals. However, both children with autism and dogs are particularly adept at reading body language cues to nail down a message or understand a situation.

Preference for rules and routine

Our imaginations are freed, or stimulated, by the very prospect of companionship, quiet, a predictable and consoling routine.

– Joyce Carol Oates

A day in the life of a child with autism consists of routine tasks. Now the pros of growing up in an environment where rules and boundaries are regularly enforced clearly outweigh the cons in the end.

Pros:

  • Less unpredictability
  • Reduced levels of cortisol
  • Increased productivity

 

Cons:

  • Drudgery and boredom
  • Creative limbo

Our furry friends, too, enjoy having rules. They want to know what they are expected to do, and they thrive when they are given consistent tasks. For instance, the experience of accompanying you to an early morning walk in the park conditions your dog to expect the same activity every day. Eventually he starts loving the activity and gets peeved when he is not taken out for walk.

Aversion to forced socialization

Just like individuals on the spectrum, dogs loathe the idea of having to interact with the ones they do not like.

Our life is in the middle of a technological explosion. We can easily develop an outstanding application for people with autism; it may not be too long before we make sufficient progress in nanomedicine to successfully unravel the genetics of autism. Despite all the major accomplishments and those to come, it is refreshing to see that the most beautiful expressions are not associated with machines.

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