We all love our pets and the benefits they provide are simply immeasurable. Whether you own a dog, cat, fish, bird, horse or other animal, a pet can provide an experience different from that of a human relationship. For individuals with sensory or emotional needs, a pet can be a real lifesaver, friend and family member. Pets can provide a sensory outlet, emotional relief, and enhance the effectiveness of other therapies. Let’s take a look at some key benefits:
- Motor planning. You wouldn’t think of motor planning (the ability to execute and perform a motor task) as a benefit from owning a pet, but walking a dog, feeding a fish, grooming a horse or cleaning a cage requires motor skills that result in a finished task. If your child needs guidance, break the activity down into steps to help them stay organized while doing the task at hand. Sometimes having a pet to just stand by while working on an activity like climbing a swing ladder can make all the difference too.
- Hand-Eye Coordination. Lifting your bird up on a mobile perch or playing fetch with a dog is a great way to build eye-hand coordination skills while interacting with your favorite pet. Let your pet accompany you while playing with your favorite weighted ball.
- Many pets need to be stroked. Petting, engaging and sitting with a dog or a furry animal can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and provide a great sensory outlet for over responsive individuals as well as sensory seekers. Pets love our sensory blankets and lap pads too!
- Speech and Language Therapy. Many people speak to their pets. Pets don’t usually talk back, either. They are phenomenal listeners, giving those with speech and language challenges an opportunity to engage without interruption. Try reading with sight words or talking with your pet regularly.
- Emotional Intelligence. In addition to speech and language, a pet can be a great counselor. Being that they are great listeners, a pet can handle most any problem and provide a safe conversation for anyone needing some therapy time. Tell your pet how you’re feeling and share your emotional state with Reggie Ruler
- Pets require regular care with feeding, grooming, walking, and cleaning their environment. Owning a pet, with the proper supervision, can provide a great means for learning responsibility. If your child cannot handle all the tasks, pick a few to start. Write them on a board in sequential order and use as a checklist to teach follow through on personal responsibility.
- Surrogate Pets. If you don’t have a live pet, we invite you to “adopt” one of our many therapy tools with animal-friendly themes. Our Vibrating Sensory Snail and Vibrating Bee calm with movement and engage kids who need to fidget. Three Snapping Turtles provide heavy hand work and build fine motor control. The Shark and Dolphin Chewy Necklace Set calm and focus with every bite! To see the newest options, visit FunandFunction.com today.