This article is about two points in respect of companion cats and children suffering from autism. The first point to make is that a study (764 participants) published on 4 March 2020 in the online journal Springer Link, tells us that parents with lower incomes perceived benefits in having a cat in the family in respect of reducing stress both, it seems, in the child and the parents when the child suffered from autism.
The study was about pets in general and therefore I must add that in parents owning both a dog and a cat they perceived more benefit from a dog than a cat. The parents who thought that their companion animals benefited them had less stress.
The implication is that professionals in the field of advising parents of children with autism should consider recommending a companion animal to benefit them generally and lower parental stress. Autism should strictly speaking be referred to as “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD).
In another study titled: Exploratory study of cat adoption in families of children with autism: Impact on children’s social skills and anxiety, the conclusion was that, “This exploratory study found introduction of a cat into the home may have a positive impact on children with ASD and their parents. Based on this initial finding, future studies with larger sample sizes are recommended.”
They found that cat adoption was associated with greater empathy and less separation anxiety in children with ASD. The kids had fewer behavioural problems such as bullying and hyperactivity.
The second point worth making comes from The Times newspaper this morning in which it is reported that children whose mothers take cannabis during pregnancy are almost twice as likely to develop autism according to a big study. The research involved half a million women. Those who used cannabis during pregnancy had a higher chance of giving birth to an autistic child. The incidence of autism in children if the mother took cannabis was 4 per 1000 person years compared to 2.42 among unexposed children. The research paper was published in Nature Medicine.
Some more studies