Guinea Pig Ownership and Social Skill Improvement of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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A growing number of children within the United States of America are suffering from debilitating deficiencies in communication and social interaction (Matson, 2011). Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to most recent statics, estimates that approximately 1 in 59 children living in the United States (Baio, 2018). Small animal pets may be a resourceful and natural way for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to increase their social ability. Social competence allows children to practice the skills they learn while developing and interacting amongst their peers to refine those learned skills.

With ASD targeting the social realms of the child is important to look at the previous studies done with guinea pigs to determine if small animal pets are a good way to curtail the deficiencies caused by ASD. Social problems and disabilities in todays society can become the point of focus for bullies and harassment, but with the help of guinea pigs the effects of bullying can be diminished. The effects of bullying have been extensively studied and it is well known that bullying overall is harmful. For children with ASD the bullying that takes place at school, due to their disability and its effect on the child, can extend pass the classroom and cause maladjusted behavioral traits to show in the home as well (O’Haire et al. 2014; Kasara, 2007).

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When, however, a Guinea pig was introduced into the classrooms with children who suffered from ASD results showed improvement in ASD children’s social skills, including their social approach behavior, functioning, and social withdraws (O’Haire et al. 2014). This makes sense as children with ASD would prefer animal contact to that of toys or children (Celani, 2002; O’Haire et al. 2013). Having the presence of a guinea pig in the classroom allowed the children both with ASD and without the ability to communicate and interact over a commonality: the class guinea pig. By interacting with a guinea pig at school improvements were seen but the pupils studied were not allowed to take it home with them.

Children aren’t just socially interacting at school, but they are also emotionally interacting with peers as well. While the, rejection, bullying and other exclusionary stresses can affect the home life (Lytle and Todd, 2009). It would be beneficial to keep a small pet animal such that as a guinea pig in the home. Because it is not feasible to put a guinea pig in every classroom child both with ASD and without are missing out on several possible benefits. However, with over 24 million small animals as pets and approximately 80 million American homes with any type of pet it can reasonably inferred that is easier for responsible parents and guardians to obtain and keep a guinea pig than it is for a school too (Heugten,

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