A few weeks back I wrote about my brother Jeff, who has a certain aversion to felines of all types. He isn’t much of an animal person in general, usually just patting the heads of dogs while gently whispering “nice puppy” and that is usually all the attention they will get. Although not everyone loves animals like I do, there is a general consensus that companion animals can be very therapeutic, especially to those who have developmental disabilities.
There is solid proof that pet therapy can be very beneficial to people who have Down syndrome, autism and a variety of other developmental disabilities. First, there is the unconditional love they offer you…well, maybe not every cat I have come across…but there is certainly an unconditional acceptance of who you are. Pets don’t judge you on your appearance, what you can and cannot do or whether you can even talk, your presence seems to be enough. They are trusting, they listen, and they help us feel needed just the way we are.
People with developmental disabilities and their families can benefit in many ways from companion animals. Pets provide a calming influence which may help when a person is transitioning between places, activities or routines. They also provide an opportunity for independence, as someone may help with the responsibility of feeding, walking and caring for the pet. The presence of pets gives all of us a safe place to be ourselves, a luxury that not everyone has.
By Joanna Redfern, Volunteer Blogger
For more information about Joanna, please go to: http://www.createitemporium.com
Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community.
The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.