Just wanted to pop into this thread and say that I commend Shaina for bringing the topic up. Animals have been proven to be a great "therapy tool", whether it be for autism, depression, or any other chronic illness. I myself have manic depression and a rather severe violent streak that gets me in trouble from time to time (don't worry, I'm not going to go postal on anyone here). Sometimes, making sure that Modi is happy and healthy is all I wake up for in the mornings.
My boyfriend's younger brother is mildly autistic, but that doesn't stop him from holding down a steady job as an artisan and enjoying a small but fulfilling social life. Despite the fact that he only has up to a middle-school education, he works on window displays for Hermès and Louis Vuitton, and does the gold leafing on the gates for embassies here in Paris. It goes without saying that he has a superb attention to detail. Even if he may never leave home to live independently, his family has always treated him as if nothing is wrong, and I believe that's really helped him pull through. Plus, he's one of the most intelligent people I know, and I find him to be quite inspirational :)