Cats may help decrease anxiety for kids with autism

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In a new study, researchers found that cats may help increase empathy while decreasing separation anxiety for children with autism.

The findings can have beneficial implications for families considering adopting a companion animal for their child.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Missouri.

Previous research has shown parents of kids with autism are more stressed than parents of kids with any other disability.

In the study, families that had children with autism aged 6-14 were monitored after adopting a cat into their home.

The cats were screened for temperament to ensure they were calm and a good match for the family.

Not only did the families report an instant bond between their child with autism and their new cat, but the bond remained strong over the course of time, and the child’s anxiety decreased over time.

The team found the main benefit of these companion animals is their unconditional acceptance.

Some children with autism may have sensory issues or be sensitive to loud noises, so a cat may be an appropriate, comforting pet for some families due to its calming presence.

The team says helping families make the best choice for their kids has motivated Carlisle’s research with companion animals, and the study’s findings highlight the benefits of human-animal interaction.

One author of the study is Gretchen Carlisle.

The study is published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing.

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