The positive effects animals have on individuals with autism was recently highlighted in a study from the NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The study found when animals are present, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have lower readings on a device that detects anxiety and other forms of social arousal when interacting with their peers.
We’ve known for some time that interaction with dogs can have a positive effect on those with autism and other disabilities. Horses are now being recognized for their psychological benefits by a growing numbers of therapists who work with autistic children. Scientists have found levels of oxytocin, the hormone which promotes social interaction and increases bonding and empathy, increase when interacting with horses and dogs.