Is now a good time to welcome a pet into your home?
Staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak has provided many families the opportunity to bring home and train a pet. For families who have special needs children, the idea of having a pet can be very intriguing. Of course, bringing home a puppy or a kitten requires almost constant attention as you get them acclimated to your house and trained to go for walks or use litter boxes.
Some children with special needs have deficits in social skills. For them, having friends can be difficult. Enter a dog or cat! I’ve wondered about this for my own family; would having a companion canine for my son help him with certain aspects of his life?
It’s been shown through studies that children who interact with service dogs have exhibited a strong bond with their animal and an improvement in social skills. A phone survey of 70 parents of children with ASD showed that these children were attached to their dogs.
So, looking at some pros and cons, it seems that improving a child’s social skills is definitely a plus. Having to housebreak a puppy: not necessarily a con, but challenging. Providing unconditional friendship to a child with special needs…who could ask for more? A steep price tag for the application process and training of a true service animal: con (but some programs help families with the cost of acquiring a service dog).
Whether you have a pet in your home for your child with special needs, or you are considering getting a pet, there are specific care-taking routines that must accompany such a venture. Others (when you are not able to be there) will need to know exactly what to do to provide care for the animal that means so much to your child! The pet will become an integral part of your family. At Vest, we’ve created a Section and Pocket just for this purpose; you can make sure that others will know the important role that the pet plays in the happiness and support of your child.
Do you already have a pet for your child with special needs? Tell us about it! Considering getting a pet, especially during the stay-at-home orders? Let us know!