The present research addresses the interest of studying the effectiveness and validity of the integration of a well trained service dog in the homes of young children living with an ASD and the impact on the family functioning.
The MIRA Foundation offers since 2002 a service dog to these families and documents the effectiveness of the intervention. To his day, the MIRA Foundation trains service dogs to act as moderators between children living with a ASD and their social environment, in an effort to improve social behavior (Fecteau, 2008).
Recent research has shown that service dogs, such as those trained by the MIRA Foundation, have beneficial effects on autistic children and their families, which can be observed in improved daily routine (Viau et al, 2010; Burrows et al., 2008). We consider that an approach using a variety of methods will ensure us to have a proper evaluation of what precisely the dog’s presence impacts.
In fact, the results of our last comprehensive research project show that the integration of a service dogs not only helps the children cope with their daily difficulties such as sleep disorders and anxiety, it also aids parents to cope with their stress related to their parental tasks and offers a better family cohesion. Results such as these encourage us to firmly believe that an intervention such as the one offered by the MIRA Foundation can help families and children to better cope with the disorder