Parental Perceptions of the Nature of the Relationship Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Share with Their Canine Companion
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Springer New York LLC
School of Arts and Humanities
This study examined the role of companion canines in the lives of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Interviews were conducted with 11 mothers of children with ASD (aged 5-12) who owned a canine companion in a multiple case study methodology. Transcript analysis revealed the emergence of five major themes, namely; love and companionship, perception of ownership, comfort and calming influence, canine's ability to assist the child with understanding their world, and challenging experiences. The social and emotional benefits of companion canine ownership were observed in the majority of cases, particularly when the canine was the preferred companion animal and possessed an appropriate temperament suitable to cohabit with children who possess unique social and sensory needs.