In a recent study published by PlusOne.org, Marguerite O’Haire shared the results of her study of ASD kids ages 5-13 socially interacting with neuro-typical children. The study used 99 children from 15 different classrooms and grouped one autistic child with two neuro-typicals for three ten-minute sessions with toys and then 3 ten-minute sessions with guinea pigs. The sessions that had guinea pigs present increased social behaviors (such as conversing and making eye-contact) between peers compared to play sessions that just had toys available.
In 2010, it was reported that canines can help ASD people physiologically. Researcher James Griffin claims in the USA Today that kids had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol once a dog was introduced. It has been reported that dogs can bring therapeutic benefits to kids on the spectrum, but guinea pigs are new to ASD research. Now we know animals in general help increase social skills for kids on the spectrum.
For information on applying for an autism assistance dog contact: http://4pawsforability.org/ or http://www.mira.ca/en/programs/7/service-assistance-dog-for-child-presenting-asd_142.html