Impact of Service Dogs on the Well-being of Autistic Children, their Parents and Families

One in 44 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autistic children have been found to benefit from interaction with dogs, yet minimal research has been found demonstrating the outcome of matching service dogs with autistic children. The aim of the project is to evaluate the impact of service dogs on autistic children, their parents and families. In this study parents of autistic children will complete surveys measuring the following: child symptoms of autism, child and parent anxiety, family functioning and dog attachment. Families will be followed over time from their initial approval to be on a waitlist to receive a service dog, through training and up to one year after being matched with a service. Findings will be helpful for families considering a service dog, service dog training organizations and scientists studying human-animal interaction.

Funded by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI)