Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.
If you have a child or loved one who is physically or mentally challenged, Animal Assisted Therapy just may be the thing for them. Caring for a pet has an overall positive impact on a child’s mind and body.
Animal Therapy need not only be for those kids with lifelong illnesses but can also be very therapeutic for children who are recovering from accidents and poor health.
Children are innocent and have less trust issues than adults. Their curious nature also helps them bond with pet at a faster rate. An intimacy is formed and it this is what becomes therapy for the child.
Medicine can only do so much. Animal assisted therapy is so much more. Caring for a dog encourages a child to be awake on time, complete studies and households chores on time so that there is ample time to spend with the pet.
Watch the moving, true story of a Golden Labrador Retriever named Henry, who was adopted into a family with a severely Autistic boy named Dale.
Development diseases leave a child very dependent on the parent. Such children may not be able to do much for themselves, but therapy animals can help them improve their interactions and relationships and also give them a much needed boost to speak and communicate in verbal and nonverbal ways.
When children see an animal, they are naturally eager to feed, groom, play with and exercise it. Such children also feel the same way and are encouraged to go forward and care for the animals under parental supervision. They hold a leash, brush the fur, place food and water bowls before the animal thus promoting motor skills.
Because of this interaction they also try harder to communicate and express themselves. Children with mental disabilities, such as autism, often have few or no friends and having a pet may encourage the neighborhood kids to come and play with the dog. It can break the ice and act as a communication bridge.
Even if this does not happen, such kids try harder because they too understand that the dog gives unconditional and nonjudgmental love and companionship them. They are in a relatively happier mood around animals because of their amusing antics.
Parents too are mentally stressed when their children are challenged. Having a dog at home reduces parenting stress as well. They have to take the time to groom feed and walk the pet, thus giving them some alone time to recuperate mentally. The benefits are multifold when both the child and parents stand to gain from having a pet.
If someone in your family is physically challenged then too, a dog around the house may prove to be a boon and much needed relief. They work well with both kids and adults. Disabilities often isolate people and make them lonely. They also diminish one’s self esteem and confidence.
A dog that provides assistance acts as the very extension of the missing limb or motor skill. They enable you to achieve most tasks independently and without having to depend on people for assistance.
Assistance dogs or service dogs are trained to perform the tasks required for and by the disabled person. They offer a disabled child or adult some functional independence and reduces the need for other humans or caretakers to be by the side of a challenged person throughout the day.
Service dogs can also be invaluable companions for the elderly, especially those who live alone, as these dogs are allowed into any place where the average public is allowed.
Such trained animals can open and close doors, fetch the things you need, pick up objects that have fallen down, help you avoid obstacles, identify and locate objects at your command. They can help you shop, switch off and turn on the lights, help you cross the road and pull you forward in a wheel chair.
Service dogs can even hear and speak for you. If you are deaf they can alert you to someone at the door or can alert you to flashing lights and ringing bells. If you are unable to speak, they can speak for you by barking to alert those who care for you.
For the blind, they become their very eyes by guiding them in the house and on the road. If you are epileptic or have illnesses that can render you helpless all of a sudden, these dogs can sense an oncoming attack and save your life as they are trained to fetch your medicines, alert people to your condition and protect you as you wait for help.
If circumstances force you live alone, despite being disabled, then having a dog is the best option. A dog can become your best friend.
Your pet can help you get over feelings of abandonment, rejection, loneliness, depression, suicide, helplessness and grief. There can be no other who can love you so loyally and unconditionally. This paves the way for an unbreakable bond.