Value of Pets to Those on the Spectrum 6

Day 13 Gratitude Post:

It is time for my 2011 weekly Project Gratitude post.  Information about Project Gratitude can be found at:

Riding the Roller Coaster: Project Gratitude.

You all had such kind things to say after my posts with my pets pictures, and I truly am grateful for all the animals that have shared my life and for a dad who allowed me to have animals growing up.

First a disclaimer, today’s talk is strictly my opinion based on my experience with my pets and with random reading on the subject, but yes I do believe a pet can be a good thing for those on the spectrum or really for anyone.

The reason I believe a pet can be a good thing is because over my lifetime I have talked more to my animals than I talk to some people and believe me when I say I do talk.  Remember I grew up in a rural area, so while I did spend time at my friend’s house on weekends, if I got upset about something during the week I frequently  went for a walk in our pasture.  When I happened to see my horses on this walk I stopped to pet them and somehow even without words they seemed to understand that I was upset about something.  They were there for me with a nudge of their nose to tell me it was going to be okay.

Or, if I stayed in the house, my dogs would come up to me to make sure I was okay.  When I was in the yard, my cats were there.  Even our wandering Tom Cat seemed to understand.  My children have that relationship with our dogs as well.

That is why in a world where those on the autism spectrum can feel so misunderstood I think having a pet can be a wonderful thing.  I know there are many who believe in “horse therapy,” and if that is you I say great, but I know not everyone is comfortable with horses.  I guess what I am trying to say is, try to find a pet that your child is comfortable with if you do decide to get a pet.  Hopefully, you can also find one that fits your life style as obviously some pets need more attention than others.  I also know that pets aren’t for everyone, and if they aren’t for you and your family maybe you can find a substitute calming influence like music or whatever works for your child and your family.

Do you have pets or did you have them growing up?  What is your opinion on the value of pets for those on the spectrum?  I eagerly await your responses.




  1. Hi, Sue.

    My family’s experience with pets has been a positive one. Our cats snuggle up with the boys to sleep at night, and there is always one lying right next to them when they are ill. This was a bit of a problem for a while when “Theodore”, our youngest, was smaller, because our cats are quite large and tended to squish him trying to lay on top of him. The cats also provide a certain amount of comedy relief when they get into things not meant for them or chase each other around the house. We got our cats as kittens from the same litter when the older two boys were only about 6 and 3 years old, so it’s a bit like they have grown up together.

    We have a couple of guinea pigs, too. My ASD son, “Simon”, developed an instant bond with one we came across in a pet store a few years ago, and I got a second one so that “Alvin”, who was also old enough to care for a pet at the time, could have the experience, too. Simon read on his own somewhere that pets can lower your blood pressure, and he took that very much to heart. When he is really stressed out, I can often find him in his room holding the guinea pig that lives in his room. He also seeks out opportunities to pet the cats for that same calming effect.

    Simon doesn’t always pay that much attention to things going on around him, but he routinely points out to me when one of the pets seems to have some type of ailment or is in need of nail trimming or a food purchase, and he remembers every day to provide fresh food and water for the pet that is his responsibility.

    I was always very attached to my pets and animals, in general, growing up, and I’m glad my children are able to share some of that. Thanks for sharing your experience.


  2. Hi Sue – thank you so much for posting my little picture of Stormy…

    I loved this post Sue and just wanted to let you know how important my dog is to me…you see, she’s the first dog I’ve ever had and I am madly IN LOVE with her 😉 That might sound strange…and it certainly would have sounded strange to me too, before I got her. But Stormy is there with me constantly, sunshine even on the darkest of days, and she loves me just as much as I love her. She does not care what I look like, whether I’ve brushed my hair, or put on clean clothes…she’ll still wag her tail and come give me cuddles regardless. Yes, I have taught Stormy how to put her little paws around my neck and snuggle into me, giving me cuddles!!! She also gives me kisses when I ask…by tapping my face with her cute little nose (sometimes my boyfriend does not get a look in which I might need to address soon!)

    As well as all of the love, Stormy gives me a purpose in days that can often feel empty…by giving me structure. I have overcome many of my struggles by having her as she takes me out of myself…as well as the house.

    Although I’m not an ‘Aspie’, I certainly have a lot of the traits, plus suffer from severe depression…basically I would suggest to any individual who struggles in life to get a dog – because they WILL change your life IN A POSITIVE way. First though, I would urge any person (like you said in your post) to make sure they have the time, space and ability to look after any animal…and can afford things like food and vet bills too.

    Thanks for such an enjoyable post…I’m looking forward to reading more!

    Chloe xx

    • Chloe,
      I know exactly what you mean. The husky pictured here was very important to me and it was very hard when he died. He would sit on the step beside me and lean into me. My ex told me I loved the dog more than him and he was right, but that had more to do with our poor relationship at the time than with the dog. I’m so glad you have Stormy and I’m also so glad that I found your blog. 🙂

      • Hi Sue
        Well, I certainly understand what your dad meant in terms of the heart-break a dog can bring…but even a minute of pure joy with them outweighs the inevitable pain. I cannot think about when Stormy passes away…so I will move on quickly…

        I’m so glad to have found your blog too – and here’s to a great 2011 for us both… 😉

        Have a Happy Day!! xx

        • Chloe,
          Actually, it was Kelly’s dad who told her that a dog brings heartbreak, but yes, I agree 100% that “even a minute of the pure joy with them outweighs the inevitable pain.”

          I hope Stormy lives for many more years as I know how much Stormy means to you. I’m all for a great 2011 for both of us! 😉
          Aloha and have a wonderful day too!

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