Pet Ownership and the Benefits to Special Needs Kids

benefits to having a petWe have known for some time that pets can alleviate stress in individuals. Just the presence of an animal can be soothing and anxiety reducing. Pets have been used to boost both the mental and physical health of individuals in hospitals, prisons, and senior care homes.

Benefits to Having a Pet
Children with special needs, such as ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, anxiety, or bipolar, can receive numerous benefits from having a pet.

  • Pets provide unconditional love and affection. They are fairly predictable and do not engage in the many human activities that generates stress, such as arguing or exhibiting contradictory behavior. The reliability of a pet can bring comfort to a child who sees his day as quite inconsistent and hectic. A pet can generate a calming effect that in turn can reduce your child’s stress.
  • Feeding and caring for a pet allows your child to shift his focus from his own life to his pet’s needs. He can receive a sense of satisfaction and competence from learning how to care for his new pet and having this pet depend on him. A child’s confidence and self-esteem can increase as she acquires new skills and becomes successful in caring for her pet.
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Danette Schott, M.A. About Danette Schott, M.A.

Using her research background, Danette founded S-O-S Research to provide information on "invisible" special needs to parents, teachers, and other professionals. Currently she is Executive Editor at Special-Ism, focusing on the challenges or the -Isms experienced by children with various special needs, such as high functioning autism, ADHD, anxiety, mental illness, and Sensory Processing Disorder.

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  • Donahue

    Great site for special needs children. I have been looking at how regular kids do with their first pet (as my website above says), but you are right, there is a special level of care that needs to be considered for an autisic child’s pet. Both on the child’s part as well as the pet’s part. My good friend Craig has an Autistic son, and a (regular? normal? how who you say it?) daughter. They had to find pets that work for both, but did very well with dogs.

  • http:/// Danette

    Donahue, thanks for the comments. Your website looks like a good resource for families considering a pet. I love the lion!

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  • Terrier

    It’s very exiting to find this web site. I don’t have much to add to the conversation, but I’m right there with you. This post said exactly what I have been thinking. Good to see you posting.

  • Amiel Sac

    Indeed, shifting focus from oneself to another really liberates one from insecurity and in their case, from having reasons to throw tantrums and such. Thanks for this very informative post.

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  • casey

    I have to agree that having a pet could provide healthy benefits. I also checked free pet care charts, which reminds me that I have to walk my dog. I haven’t tried a dog party but Animal Wow has some ideas on how to throw a party.

  • Dave

    Pets are supposed to REDUCE stress? Well, that certainly isn’t this case between my father and the neighbors dogs. xD

  • http:/// Danette

    Dave, maybe your dad should try a cat! :)

  • Minisite Design

    Yes, I solely agree with you that pets provide us with unconditional love and affection. This is the type of information that I am looking for. Thank you so much for sharing this post. Minisite Design

  • Poppy – Pregnancy Miracle

    I think if you are considering a child’s first pet, it’s a good idea to start off small – hamsters, maybe a rabbit. Forget that, start with a low maintenance fish, and work up from there!

    Animals certainly can have a soothing effect on human’s health and wellbeing – when they are house trained…

  • Jolina

    I certainly believe that animal companions are the best in the world. They love you unconditionally, even when you feel you have no one else to turn to. During a period of depression I experienced from a break up, I felt that my cat was the only there to comfort me.

  • Sue – Urticaria Remedy

    “Feeding and caring for a pet allows a child to shift his focus from his own life to his pet’s needs.”

    This is a great “soft skills” learning experience for all children, not just those with special needs!

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  • Bethany Sheldahl

    Great article!

  • Danette

    Thanks, Bethany. I’m glad you liked it!

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