Animal-Assisted Therapy

An inspiration for children with disabilities

Animals have a therapeutic effect upon children with disabilities and medical researchers have found that interaction with animals can increase a child's emotional, physical and psychological development. Although dogs and cats are the first animals which come to mind, it can be an exciting, interesting and educational experience for children to be introduced to the more exotic species of animal, such as Chinchillas, Snakes, Lizards, Spiders, etc;

Benefits of Having a Pet

Children with special needs, such as ADHD, Bipolar, Asperger's, Anxiety, or Autism, can obtain many benefits from having a pet. Pets offer unconditional love and affection and can generate a calming effect therefore reducing a child's stress levels, plus animals are rather predictable and will not engage in the human traits such as arguing or being contradictory which can cause a special-needs child to become distressed.
Having a pet can allow a special-needs child to concentrate on the needs of the animal and learning how to feed and care for the pet can instil confidence and a sense of achievement in the child. The continual interaction needed in looking after a pet can give the child a sense of consistency and routine, which in turn can increase the child's competence and self-esteem.
It is imperative that parents match a pet to the child's lifestyle, physical limitations, and behavioural development so children who have a sedate, reflective way of life would need a pet which also has a calm manner and taking the advice of an expert could make the choice of which pet to decide upon, quite a simple process.

Meeting the creatures

Many children with disabilities or special needs may never get to experience the opportunity of seeing exotic animals and/or learning about them. Experts have now 'taken to the road' and will visit special schools, giving simple, informative talks and allowing the children to experience the different textures, shapes and sizes and to be able to hold, stroke or touch the various animals and reptiles.
This provides these children with a new sensory experience and can prove to be stimulating and motivating. Many children will have disabilities for the rest of their lives, so the opportunity of interaction with exotic animals creates a new sensation for them, and one which has proven to have beneficial results. There almost seems to be a natural bond between children and animals and children normally approach meeting a new and strange creature with inquisitiveness rather than fear.