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.

Aloha,

Sue

Lessons Learned From Riding Horses 14

I am grateful for the lessons Dad taught me while riding horses together when I was young. One obvious lesson was to get back on the horse when you fall off or are thrown. However, my dad used our horses to teach so many other lessons.

When I was around eight my Shetland pony bolted with me on his back with loose reins and my feet out of the stirrups. My dad did not panic instead he got within hearing range to shout these instructions, “Hold on tight, remain calm, and focus on grabbing the reins to slow down.”

When life seems out of control I’ve always referred back to this. I also learned something else valuable that day although at the time I did not realize it. Every time my dad and his horse got close my pony ran faster.

Finally, I had to yell to my father, “Stay back.”

When my pony realized my dad’s horse wasn’t close by, he did slow down. This allowed me to grab the reins and the stirrups.

What did this teach me you wonder?

It taught me that sometimes as parents we have to step back and let our children handle things themselves. This does not mean not being there, my dad wasn’t too far away after all. It is more about being supportive without stepping in which can be very hard as the parent I tell you. I think it is especially difficult when your child has any difference that makes life harder for them. Yet, even they have to be able to work some problems out for themselves.

I learned the lesson.

Yet, it is still hard to remember especially when I see one of my children hurting for some reason. They both are now old enough to ask when they need help and since one day I hope they will be on their own, I have to let them grab the reins themselves while being close enough by to offer advice.

How I sometimes wish life were as simple as it was when they were toddlers! Back then the greatest pains could be kissed away. And before you ask, yes, both of them allowed me to kiss away their pain then. “Oh those were the days my friend!”