Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 1137-1145

First online:

The Social Skills and Attachment to Dogs of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Gretchen K. CarlisleAffiliated withResearch Center for Human Animal Interaction, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri Email author 

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Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have deficits in social skills, and interaction with service dogs has been associated with increased social skills for children with ASD. In this telephone survey of 70 parents of children with ASD, children owning dogs had greater Mean scores for social skills, using the Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scale, while those with some type of pet (not excluding dogs) had significantly greater skills for subscale item “assertion”. Parents described their children as attached to their dogs. Children owning dogs completed the Companion Animal Bonding Scale, and reported strong bonding with dogs. These findings suggest children with ASD may bond with their dogs, and pet ownership may be associated with increased social skills.


Autism Dogs Children Attachment Social skills