Linden Grove School’s Facebook page recently shared a story about Agility Angels, a volunteer organization in Toledo, Ohio, utilizing the sport of dog agility to help individuals with autism develop social skills, physical abilities and self-confidence. LGS parents, supporters, and other followers responded with requests for information on local canine programs for individuals on the spectrum.
Initial research indicates companion animals can help children and adults with ASD decrease feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness; and improve behaviors and social interactions. While dogs are most often associated with therapy/intervention supports, research indicates cats, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even tarantulas can help individuals with ASD live fuller lives.
At LGS, four staff-owned dogs attend school on alternating days; and staff also provide a chinchilla and freshwater fish. Students learn how to interact with the animals, and often work for time spent with them.
What kind of dog is right for your child?
And let’s not forget about horses! To explore the benefits of equine therapy, contact Safe Haven Farms in Middletown, Muddy Water Equestrian Park in Cincinnati, and Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship.