Autism and having Pets

              Autism is a unique condition that people with autism share, even though it varies from person to person. However, there are certain things about autism that each person with the condition shares, no matter how they experience it themselves. Among these traits of autism is that animals hold a special place in the hearts of those who have it. In this article, I will list some reasons why animals help individuals on the spectrum feel less isolated and alone.

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               The first reason animals can be helpful to autistic people is because they provide unconditional love and support without expecting anything back in return. This trait makes them good companions for those who often feel as if their actions aren’t enough or aren’t right and thus worry about letting others down all the time. Animal companions are so accepting of autistic individuals that they don’t even require eye contact in order to show that they care. Some people with autism feel like their sense of empathy is off (like my own little sister), making it hard for them to connect with others in the same way most people do. Animals can help these people develop healthy relationships because animals do not judge humans, rather focus on the positive traits.

               A second reason why animals can be beneficial to autistic individuals is that they will spend time playing with the person when it seems like no one else wants to. For example, an individual who has autism may come home from school and sit in front of their favorite TV show while flipping channels aimlessly instead of joining others in a live conversation. Unbeknownst to the autistic individual, their pet has been patiently waiting for them all day and will play with them when they finally show up. This is another example of an animal’s unconditional love and support; it makes its owner feel very special and important.

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               Animals also bring joy into the lives of autistic individuals because they can help these people learn how to communicate and express themselves in unique ways. For instance, my sister, who struggles with empathy, found comfort in teaching our family dog new tricks such as sitting on command or “playing dead.” She would teach him these things over and over again until she became satisfied that he could do them successfully without her guidance. Patience with training our dog helped her to be patient with herself, and she learned to be patient with others as well.

               Last but not least, the time spent playing together is another reason why animals are beneficial to autistic individuals. This reason can be understood by looking at people who have siblings on the autism spectrum. For children of parents who also have autism, it is often difficult for them to enjoy their own lives because they feel like they constantly need to care for their sibling or parent who may be falling apart at the seams due to sensory overload. This problem can be solved if one has a pet that needs just as much attention as their family member does—allowing both parties involved in the relationship healthy opportunities for personal growth.

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            Although animals may not help every person on the spectrum, they can certainly help a lot of people. In fact, I personally believe that animals are essential in an autistic individual’s life. Pets provide comfort and joy to those who experience autism from both inside and out.

My Pets

I have:

  • Alaskan Klee Kai
  • Husky / Swiss Shepherd x
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • 2 Tabby Cats
  • 8 Betta Fish (Siamese Fighters)
  • 6 Black Skirt Tetras
  • 10 Neon Tetras
  • 9 White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • 2 Plecos

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