A recent study by the University of Missouri showed children with Autism who have pets “develop stronger social and communication skills”. Pets can help a child with special needs in a variety of ways, but selecting a pet based of your child’s sensory issues is key. For example, dogs can provide comfort and loyal companionship, cats can help children with high sensory issues and rabbits are good for children who enjoy quiet time and work better with more contained animals.
Zach Tucker, a 6th grader from Colorado, was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of 8. Severe anxiety kept him up at night, so he turned to animals for comfort; specifically, a chocolate lab named Clyde. Clyde is a trained assistance dog who helps Zach navigate his day to day anxieties and social fears. His parents say, “He’s never had anxiety at night since”. Everyone’s pet story is different but no matter which type of companion you choose, the benefits your child will receive are worth it.
For more information and resources on planning for your loved one with special needs, browse through our website at specialneedsforum.org.