7 Ways Having a Pet Benefits a Child with Special Needs
Whether it's a cat, dog, or other animal, having a family pet can help your child with special needs learn skills, reduce anxiety, and more.
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4. Pets can help kids with autism build social skills.
Research has shown that animals increase social behaviors in children on the spectrum. “Children with autism were more likely to talk, smile, laugh, and make physical contact with others when they had real pets, rather than toys,” reveals Joanna Woodnutt, B.V.M, B.V.S., BVMedSci, MRCVS, and a team member at Breed Advisor.
5. Taking care of an animal helps kids learn responsibility.
Taking care of their pets will help a child with special needs create their own schedule, including when to feed or bathe the pet, and even when it’s time for some fun. Morgan points out that this daily routine helps create better habits, such as the ability to make plans, then focus and stick to it.
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6. Pets can help kids with physical disabilities with everyday tasks.
Animals can be trained to grab objects, open doors, and guide people with limited mobility or physical impairments, Dr. Barrack notes.
7. Support dogs can help with a child with special needs' well-being.
A fully trained support dog can be taught behaviors such as applying pressure to help with a panic attack or sounding the alarm if self-harming behaviors are happening. Dr. Woodnutt notes that there are even charities that train dogs for a child's particular needs.