Caring for a child with special needs can be very rewarding, but also challenging and difficult in so many ways. It’s not the fault of the child that he or she was born this way, so it is in our power to make them have a life that is as comfortable as possible. So, you can definitely use all the help you can get. But, did it ever occur to you that help can come from a dog?
While special needs children should still follow a proper therapy program, including a therapy dog in their daily routine can make a huge difference. The concept of therapy dog appeared a few decades ago, more precisely in 1960, and it developed ever since. Inexplicably, children react to the presence of a dog in a positive manner and improvements in their state is noticeable when they have a pet around. Seeing a child smiling and feeling happy, regardless of his conditions, is indeed a triumph and deserves employing any method we have in hand.
When dogs are around, kids are more open to communication and collaboration, both with their family and the medical staff in charge of their care. Great results were obtained in the case of children with autism, ADHD, and other conditions that are affecting communication skills, focus and thinking processes. Still, therapy dogs can be used for a broader spectrum of applications. They can become companions and guides for children with physical disabilities and impairments. They can help with therapy children that have cancer and other maladies keeping them from enjoying a normal life. In many cases, dogs can achieve what humans can’t and that is to offer soothing and comfort to anyone in need of them.
Dogs calm down and comfort children
When it comes to children with special needs, calming them down and helping them relax can be an issue. Some mental conditions, such as the Asperger’s syndrome and autism, can make the children feel unease when touched by another person. Thus, it is difficult to get close to such a child. It is not known why some children react this way, but it is believed that it has something to do with the mental condition affecting them.
However, they are more comfortable in the presence of a dog. There are more than enough examples in which children will initiate physical contact with a dog, like getting cozy next to the dog, in spite of the fact that they don’t enjoy human contact. This is extremely important as the child can fall asleep faster and easier and enjoy the degree of rest he or she needs. It is even possible to teach a child to sleep in his own bed much easier when a dog is present.
Dogs are the kids’ confident and protector
Dogs are creatures that are extremely protective of their families. For them, every family member is a pack member, so they will protect it in every situation. You can rest assured that your dog will be keeping its eyes on your child around the clock. What’s important is that it was noticed a significant decrease in repetitive behavior when a dog was around children that display this kind of behavior. A child can get easily hurt repeating the same motion over and over again. So, finding a method that can make the young one calm down is definitely welcome.
It keeps the child safe and from wandering unsupervised
In many cases, children with special needs are unaware of what is happening around them or can’t make the difference between good and wrong. So, it’s not uncommon for these children to wander off if they get the chance. This is probably one of the biggest worries for parents that care for such children. They have the feeling that they can’t afford to get their eyes off the child, not even for a minute.
Dogs are great because they can warn the parents if the child is trying to walk away. They can also be taught to track down a child gone missing so that the young one can be found in the shortest period possible. Of course, it is not recommended to make the dog the only supervisor of the child, but it can definitely make a difference by helping parents and supervisors doing a better job.
It lowers stress levels and promotes a positive mindset
When a brain is not functioning well, it is hard for it to generate positive states. Also, a child that can’t be outside and play because it is strained indoors or in a hospital, will indeed feel sad most of the time. A dog has the power to uplift the mood of a child and adult alike, with its gentle and friendly personality and wagging tail. It is impossible to stay sad when having a dog around.
It is in the nature of the dog to have a good mood. This good mood will be transferred to the child and help him cope better with the situation. Even after a long and stressful day, the presence of a dog can make things much better. It will be much easier to keep everyone in the family feel better once a dog is part of it.
A dog can help a child improve his or her communication and interaction skills
It’s not usual for children to have a hard time talking to an adult. They feel misunderstood or intimidated. In the case of special needs children, communication can be difficult as a result of the condition affecting the child. This part can be improved, by exercising and depositing efforts in this direction. However, it can be harder to convince a child to practice if he doesn’t feel so. This is where the dog comes into the scene. By making the child feel more comfortable, a dog can also make him more open to conversation. And you don’t need a special therapy dog for this, just a dog as a family member that can spend as much time as possible with the child.
It will become the friend that will never disappoint
People come and go, but dogs will always be loyal, until the end of their days. Within a family, certain members may leave the household at some point, either leaving for college, getting married or other reasons. The dog is that family member that will always be there. Thus, it can give a child the safety and stability he needs in order to feel comfortable. A dog can become a child’s best friend, the one that never leaves, regardless of his health condition. So, it is easier for a child to be loved and accepted when having a dog around.
The conclusion is that all children should have the chance of growing up with a dog at their side. A dog can comfort them and be there for them around the clock, never judging or answering back. Doctors and child development specialists admitted the fact that a dog can have a positive impact on a child. The impact is even more significant in the case of special needs children, who will always need a different type of approach and attention.
If you are a parent with a special needs child, it is worth considering getting a dog. You may not need a special therapy dog, as a dog that grows along with the child can do wonders. It will help the child learn better and will contribute to maintaining a positive mindset throughout the day, which is extremely important when dealing with a health problem.
Troy Clements is a Marketing Specialist in Premier Pups. He offers the best quality puppies for adoption from the best certified breeders in Ohio. He looks forward to sharing his love for pets with people through the agency.