New research suggests that social anxiety among kids with autism is eased by pets.
Guinea pigs were the animals used by researchers, and they found that playing with guinea pigs in stressful situations had a calming effect
The findings could support new therapies that use pets to help children on the spectrum improve social skills and interactions with others.
38 children with autism and 76 neurotypical children were participants in the study. All of the children wore special devices on their wrists designed to detect responses such as anxiety to social situations.
At first, the children read by themselves. Then they read to two other children and had 10 minutes of group play. Afterward, they had 10 minutes of supervised play with gunea pigs. The children with autism had higher anxiety levels when reading silently and aloud and during group ply. But, they experienced a significant drop in anxiety with the guinea pigs.