How a dog can help your autistic child

An autistic child can be a huge stressor for a family. An average of 1 out of 110 American children are diagnosed with some form autism, usually around the time social skills normally develop, from ages 3-5 ( On the low end of the autism spectrum, a child may have only mild social withdrawal and can function relatively normally in social situations. A severely autistic child may be completely unresponsive to human contact, not speak, and also have an intellectual disability. Autistic children and their families face tremendous challenges, especially in making marriage work. As parents, you may feel frustrated and powerless to penetrate into the world of your child who you love so much.

While looking for a video this week and perusing ones with dogs and babies (the ultimate cute overload) I came across this heartwarming documentary clip about an family all the way in Scotland. Dale is an autistic boy who suffered violent tantrums and was completely cut off from the world as a young child. His parents agonized over how to help him lead a happy, normal life for a little boy. Nothing seemed to get through to him. Then along came Henry, a golden retreiver puppy. Henry and Dale slowly bonded as Henry’s playful, always-cheerful presence helped Dale learn how to socialize. This wonderful dog turned their life around. Check out this video and prepare to feel moved and, perhaps, inspired!

If your family is touched by autism, you might also want to check out the book based on Dale’s journey, “A Friend Like Henry.” In addition to relationship counseling, when we are faced with challenges, it can be helpful to hear from others who have gone through the same situations. Some of my blogger friends run specific blogs dealing with the trials and joys of life with an autistic child. I highly recommend for everyone to check them out. They are fantastic writers and storytellers.