This study is based on Animal Assistance Therapy and the use of an assistance dog for children with autistic disorders. A snowball sampling of 41 Irish families living in Ireland who own an Assistance Dog were asked to fill out questionnaires evaluating the psychosocial disorder of their child, their stress levels and the roles and benefits of owning an assistance dog. A significant relationship was found between the psychosocial issues of autistic children, family stress levels and the number of years in owning an assistance dog.
The longer the dog was present in the life of an autistic child and their families, the less psychosocial issues were observed and less worry and stress were experienced by the parents. The project confirms that the central role of the assistance dog in the home and in the community, improves the quality of life for children with autism and their families.