How Animals Can Help Children with Emotional Disabilities

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Dog and Child emotional support

It has been a long-standing fact that animals have a connection with people that goes beyond the physical touch. This is why we have so many outstanding organizations across the world that work with children and adults with physical disabilities to help them achieve a better way of life.

Animals can help children with Autism

Autism is a spectrum disorder that can present itself in a variety of ways. However, all forms of autism tend to present with a social and emotional effect that is complicated and often extreme. Animal-based therapy can help to ease the stress of children with autism in many ways.

For example, the physical act of stroking a cat has proven to be a calming influence. Many nursing homes have started to use this type of therapy for their residents who have heart conditions or anxiety, which led to Emotional Support Animals gaining recognition.

In addition to the physical improvements, emotional needs have been proven to decrease over time due to these therapeutic measures. Children with autism have been shown to become less reactive and respond more positively to social situations with the assistance of animal-based therapy.

Animal-assisted therapy for Cerebral Palsy and Special Needs

Programs such as horseback therapy help people with physical and emotional disabilities by working the muscles and providing a furry friend for those with emotional needs. While this may seem a bit odd, as we'd expect them to be afraid of such a large animal, the strong and gentle nature of horses makes them appear to be a friend and guardian.

This type of therapy is great for those with physical ailments such as Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, and injury related conditions as well. Although it may seem like riding simply involves sitting on top of a horse, the motion helps to stimulate a large number of muscles in the lower back, pelvic area, hips, and legs. This therapy, referred to as hippotherapy, can provide a great amount of rehabilitation physically, as well as mentally.

Owning a dog helps to alleviate ADD and ADHD

ADD and ADHD are two disorders that are still largely misunderstood. This is due to the fact that they often come as a “package” in which patients also have a diagnosis for anxiety, depression, physical ailments such as hyper or hypothyroidism, and more. With such a complex situation, it is difficult for patients to handle a variety of situations, as their secondary conditions can exacerbate the main problem.

For example, a patient with ADHD and Anxiety may have twice as much trouble remaining focused, as they are worried about a laundry list of concerns and are fighting their natural urge to remain in constant motion as well. This is where animal-based therapy can be of great assistance, as the animal helps to calm the patient, allowing them the time they need to regain control of their senses and actions.

How to choose the right breed for your Support Animal

Once you've chosen to become involved in animal-based therapy, the time comes for you to choose a support animal. Many people choose dogs as their preferred animal, as dogs have long been known as loyal companions who seem to understand their owner's needs without question. However, choosing the correct breed is important, as some dogs may have needs that are not well-suited for ESA owners.

Selecting a breed that complements your condition can make a big difference in the resulting effects of the therapy. For example, if your child suffers from ADHD, a Border Collie may not be the best choice, as they too are quite hyper and flighty. However, a Golden Retriever may be the perfect choice, as they possess the energy to meet your child's needs as well as the calm nature to balance their condition.

Knowing breed characteristics and meeting the potential emotional support animals is important. While breed traits are a great way to choose an animal, each support animal is still an individual and will have their own quirks and special needs. Be sure to take time choosing the animal that is right for your child's needs in order to avoid a poor match and the need to rematch.

The benefits of Emotional Support Animals could make a big difference in your child's life

While we all think of the costs associated with having an animal in our home, it is vitally important to remember that the benefits of having an emotional support animal for your child may well outweigh the cost. With so many studies being done that have proven the truly inspirational effects of these types of therapy, there is every reason to discuss the possibility with your child and their health and wellness provider.

Posted on 7th November 2017.

Written by Margaret Brooks a Houston based professional writer, currently serving as the VP of content at She is a huge animal lover and had owned dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, monkeys and other small animals at different parts of her life. She currently owns just one pet - a Rottweiler named Toggie.


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