Monday, 31 March 2014

The power of pets

Family pets can be a great addition to any family.  We have found with many special needs in our family that pets have been a tremendous support for the individuals with these needs.  Your average domestic pet can provide many therapeutic and health benefits.

Having adopted 13 children over the years a lot of grief and loss has been processed throughout this time.  Our dogs and cats are always loving and present when needed providing a great sense of security.  Pets never judge, they don't talk back, they just sit and listen while soaking up the attention of being stroked, cuddled and held.  The pets have been there for each child as they processed all the emotions that go along with adoption.

One of our daughters with autism does not like to engage with people however she will spend hours speaking to our cat O'Malley.  She will be playing with her toys and pass him some to play with while he lies next to her listening to her.  While speaking with our animals she is learning how to interact and give commands so the animal will listen.  This same cat will be there while the kids are doing their school work or if someone isn't feeling well.  This cat loves everyone but has a special knack of being there when needed.
For our children with limited strength and mobility the dogs have supported them in a therapeutic way.  Brushing a large dog is teaching how to care for the animal but also provides an opportunity for stretching and building strength with the brushing motion.  The need for a dog to be exercised is an engaging way to motivate a child this exercise could be in the form of a walk, playing fetch, agility classes etc.
There is also the benefit from having to take responsibility for something other than yourself.  We have children with limited skills that are responsible for feeding the animals (with supervision).  Scooping up the dry food and pouring it into the pets bowl is a challenge but gives a great sense of accomplishment.
Of course the children and pets involved must both be taught how to behave with one another to make these interactions beneficial to both parties.

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1 comment:

  1. I totally agree. Our youngest learnt so much about attachment from his guinea pigs and then loss when one died. We have lots of animals and they are all greatly loved.

    Thanks again for sharing on #WASO