April is Autism Awareness Month – Autism & Animals. I have always had pets. My children have been fortunate enough to have never known life without a dog cuddling next to them. We are a family of animal lovers. Pets are not only warm, fuzzy-loving buddies, but they offer developmental benefits to children, especially children in the Spectrum of Autism. A recent study was performed at four schools in Australia.

The students in the Autistic Spectrum were monitored as they were playing with either toys or the classroom guinea pigs. The children were more verbal and social when they were with the guinea pigs than when they were playing with dolls. They were also more approachable while playing with the guinea pigs. Pets are social icebreakers. They force even the most socially unskilled to become social. Our dog, Lucca, has led us to more people who have become lifelong friends endless times. So, it only stands to reason, that children and adults within the Autistic Spectrum would benefit even more. Having a pet next to them is providing them with the security and confidence to become social, tactile, aware and emotional. It’s a win-win all around.

Pets give us a reason to exercise and work on our motor skills. Our dog, Lucca forces us to go for a run at night, even when we’re not in the mood. For a child or adult in the spectrum, having a pet will encourage touch, stroking, running, rolling, playing with a ball and so on. It’s continual motor skill therapy.

Pets lower our blood pressure and calm us. Any pet owner reading this article can agree that pets can feel our energy. I was bedridden for a period of time when I was pregnant with my twins. My dog never left my bedside. He wouldn’t take a sip of water unless I was next to him. He laid on top of my huge stomach for hours at a time. I was feeling so sick. But his presence and love nurtured me throughout a physically challenging time. I personally believe that having a pet for a child or adult in the Spectrum of Autism is like having a 24/7 therapist in your home. A pet is non-judgmental, comforting, loving, accepting and understands body language. A pet provides self-esteem and instills responsibility, thought, trust and compassion. Pets accept us for who we are. For someone on the Autistic Spectrum, that’s a wonderful thing. Share your pet story with us.

Deborah Rosenberg, founder of DiMare Design focuses on Cruelty-Free Vegan Design and Design Therapy. She combines specific textures, scents and colors with cruelty-free materials to create optimal thriving spaces. Deborah grew up in New York. She resides in Miami with her daughters and dog Lucca. Lucca’s favorite pastime is being a total beach bum.

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Say hello to Deborah!

I’m Deborah! My mission is to show others by demonstration, that no living being, human & non, be sacrificed for beautiful, healthy & durable furniture & decor.

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