Study finds that animals can act as “social buffers” for kids on the spectrum.
Guinea pigs are cute, cuddly, affectionate and social. And they also have a positive influence on the anxiety levels of kids on the spectrum, according to a recent study in Developmental Psychobiology.
The study found that when kids on the spectrum played with guinea pigs in a social context with typically developing peers, their anxiety levels decreased.
Researchers measured anxiety levels of 99 kids in four situations: reading silently, reading aloud, playing with peers and toys, and playing with kids and guinea pigs. While all the kids fell under the spell of the guinea pigs and showed lower levels of stress, kids on the spectrum showed the most significant drop.
Researchers suggest that animals can act as “social buffers” for kids on the spectrum whose anxiety can interfere with social interaction.