fbpx

The Positive Impact Animals Can Have On People With Autism

Child with kitten autism

By: Kerry Magro, best-selling author, speaker, and disability advocate

In honor of Elmwood Park Zoo (officially becoming the first zoo in the world to become a Certified Autism Center) and Santa Barbara Zoo (first zoo on the West Coast to become a CAC), I wanted to discuss a topic that often doesn’t get mentioned: the benefits of interactions with animals for individuals with autism.

 

Growing up, I was surrounded by animals. Our home had 8 cats. I have several positive memories of the kitties when dealing with early development challenges due to my autism diagnosis. Many kids I knew also had a cat or dog and would say the same thing.

Now, I’m not saying animals are for everyone. Sensitivities must be considered for each individual with autism when coming to a decision on whether to get a pet. With that being said, I’ve seen many kids on the spectrum have less stress and a strong connection with different types of animals. Over the years, more and more parents get their kids service animals as a way to help them with their development.

Other families have used equine therapy to help their loved ones with autism. Many are helped with sensory and motor challenges by riding a horse. What is great about horses, that regardless of where you are on the spectrum, a person can have a great interaction with an animal as well as learning a hobby one can enjoy through life (riding).

Many experts in the field of autism spectrum disorders have noted the benefits of animals, such as leading autism advocate Temple Grandin. Grandin, a renowned public speaker who also happens to be on the spectrum, has been quoted sharing about her love of animals.  If the right animal can be found, it could be a resource for autistic families for years.  Grandin’s love of cattle has made her a pioneer for animal welfare reform for over 30 years.

I am a big advocate for zoos, aquariums and other public places that provide venues for the autism community to interact with animals in a safe and non-threatening way.  At the end of the day, we need to keep our kids engaged with the world and animals are a method for accomplishing that.

Share:
Coming Early 2020Sign up for your FREE Autism Adventure Guide now

This is a interactive digital magazine for parents and travel professionals that highlights industry leading organizations who have gone above and beyond to certify their destinations and make them more accessible for guest with autism and other cognitive disorders.