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One of my dogs, Burton. He’s not a trained helper dog, but he does reduce my stress.

I’ve never written on autism before. I’m by no means an expert, and since this is an area that I don’t know much about, I figured I would leave that to the more qualified bloggers out there. I do, however, believe that there is a strong link between nutrition and autism. I think that whole, real foods can work wonders in helping control and/or reduce symptoms of autism. So many, if not all, of our diseases can be healed through proper nutrition, and autism is no different.

My favorite health food store, Vitamin Cottage, hands out the latest edition of Better Nutrition magazine every month, and I am always excited to crack it open and read the latest news. In this month’s issue, there was a article about how studies are showing that adding a dog to the family of an autistic child can help enhance their lives. As a serious dog lover, and believer in their ability to help those with illnesses and disabilities, I was thrilled to read this article and wanted to share.

This information was from a study that was done in Canada, which was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology. Dr. Sonia Lupien, PhD, co-author of the study, as well as a senior researcher and professor at the Université de Montréal says, “We found that among most autistic children, levels of stress hormones dropped significantly when a dog became part of the family. In those cases, parents reported dramatic improvements in their child’s behavior.”

There were certain circumstances where a family might not get a long with a dog, or they have members who are afraid of dogs, which did not yield a positive result, however, Dr. Lupien said this percentage was small. In total, there were 42 children studied and most of them showed significant improvements. “Before having the dog, parents reported an average of 33 problematic behaviors, compared with only 22 when the dog was present”.

Patty Dobbs Gross runs the North Star Foundation and is the author of the book The Golden Bridge: A Guide to Assistance Dogs for Children Challenged By Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities. She has raised a son with autism and she trains and places assistance dogs all through the US. Patty says, “Usually, autistic children are ignored and stared at, but being with a dog helps with these situations. People are friendlier and the child is less isolated.

I found this study to be very interesting and I wanted to share with my readers. I’d also love to hear your feedback on this. Have you had any experience with adding a dog to your home to help an autistic family member? Have you found that it is successful?

For further reading, I recommended these resources:

North Star Foundation – The foundation of Patty Dobbs Gross where she trains and places dogs to help families of autistic children.

Nourishing Hope – Fantastic website with lots of info on healing children with autism through nutrition. They also have a Facebook group that you can join where you can meet and interact with other families who are going through the same thing.





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