When it comes to mental health and well-being, having a pet is a good idea. Over the years, there have been many researches conducted, which link mental health and pets, with some suggesting that having to take care of a pet can bring down the stress levels in the body and make the person slightly better equipped to deal with their mental health. In other words, the experience can be therapeutic.
Now, a recent research has found that having a pet at home can lead to stronger bonds between parents and children with autism, and reduced stress.
According to the study conducted in the University of Missouri, US, parents of children with autism experience more stress on average, than those parents who have typically developing kids.
“Some kids with autism have specific sensitivities, so a big, loud dog that is highly active might cause sensory overload for a particular child, while a quiet cat may be a better fit,” study researcher Gretchen Carlisle was quoted as saying.
For the study, more than 700 families from the ‘Interactive Autism Network’ were surveyed, to find the benefits or burdens of having a dog or a cat at home. It was found in the research that despite the full-time responsibility of having to care for a pet, children with autism and their parents bonded very well with them. In fact the parents that had more pets at their house reported more benefits.
It is said that among other things, children with autism experience anxiety and communication problems. The research highlights that pets can provide comfort to both children and their parents, increase social interaction and decrease anxiety and stress.
Over the years, doctors have found a key connection between pets and mental health. As such, animal-assisted therapy programmes have become an integral part of mental health treatment. Having a pet at home helps in lowering of stress and anxiety, thus emboldening self esteem and well-being.