Not all heroes wear capes–some wear fur! Emotional support animals (ESAs) provide unconditional love paired with an unbreakable bond. Sometimes, all we need is some four-legged magic to brighten our lives.
In this blog, we will be discussing:
- Can an autistic person get an emotional support animal?
- How does an ESA help with autism?
- Do animals calm autism?
- What animal helps with autism?
- What breed of dog is best for autism?
Can an Autistic Person Get an Emotional Support Animal?
Yes! People with autism qualify for emotional support animals. With a note from a medical or mental health professional (that proves you have a disability), you can be eligible for an ESA.
Verifiable disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) include:
How Does an ESA Help With Autism?
An emotional support animal is a pet that can help an autistic individual manage stressful situations and improve their quality of life.
Settings like appointments, school, or traveling are made less daunting by an ESA. Alongside situational benefits, playing with and petting an animal can bring health benefits such as lowered blood pressure.
Other ways ESAs can help with autism symptoms are:
- Teaching empathy and better social skills
- Reduced frequency of autism “meltdowns”
- Encouraged independence and courage to try new things
- Improved communication, language development skills, and social interaction
- Provided routines and a stable environment
- Having a nonjudgemental, forever companion!
Do Animals Calm Autism?
ESAs are known to bring peace to stressful situations. Calming their person in the heat of the moment can help avoid emotional meltdowns or misdirected lash outs. Animals can also help autistic people be more attentive–which can be helpful in social settings such as the workplace or a classroom.
What Animal Helps With Autism?
Three of the most popular animals to help with autism are dogs, cats, and guinea pigs.
Dogs can use their body weight to calm their owners and provide a sense of stability. They are social, friendly, and loyal animals, which makes them feel familiar to a person with autism. Dogs are also referred to as a “social lubricant”- as they are a favorite pet and can help spark easy conversations with others.
Cats are low-maintenance animals that remain primarily independent. This can allow individuals with autism to have more of their own space while having a cuddly friend.
Guinea pigs are another easy-to-care-for and friendly animal. Their gentle temperament makes them easy to play with- but an important factor to consider is that these animals only have a five to seven-year lifespan.
While these are considered ESAs, dogs can also receive special training to become service animals, providing support beyond emotional support circumstances.
What Breed of Dog is Best for Autism?
When browsing breeds, it’s essential to consider a few key factors. First, are they loud or quick to bark? Could this trigger your loved one’s sensory sensitivities? Do they shed, and does anyone in your family have an allergy to dog hair? Some of the most common breeds include:
- Golden Retrievers. As a happy, intelligent, and easy-to-train breed, these dogs are a popular choice as an ESA or therapy animal.
- Labrador Retrievers. This breed is friendly and eager to serve its owner.
- Labradoodles. As they don’t shed excessively, this breed is an excellent choice for allergen-sensitive families.
- German Shepards. Loyal, sensitive, and highly intelligent, this breed loves to protect and serve. Their sharp-mindedness does not overshadow their gentleness.
- Great Pyrenees. This breed is known to be calm, loyal, and gentle. They love to be active, so they are a great pairing for a more hyperactive person.
- Bernese Mountain Dogs. As a calm and affectionate dog, this is one of the most popular breeds for children and adults with autism.
- Saint Bernards. This breed is gentle and patient–two important qualities when seeking service dogs for children. They are also highly disciplined and have intelligence to carry out small tasks.
- Newfoundlands. As a less active dog, Newfoundlands is content inside and would be a great companion to a person who prefers the indoors.
You know what they say: dogs are a man’s best friend! Each of these breeds is a great choice when determining your loyal companion. Dogs are the most popular ESA animal, as they can also be specially trained to perform specific therapy or service animal tasks.