Autism Fact: Autism greatly varies from person to person (no two people with autism are alike).
Autism and Pets: Children on the spectrum displayed a sharp drop in anxiety and social stress when playing with animals as compared to engaging in other activities whether independently or with their peers, the study found. (source)
We have a cat. A small, gray tabby named Hope. What she doesn't have in size, she makes up for in attitude. She's 10, which means we got her when our daughter, who as Asperger's, was 6. It was a particularly stressful time for us. We'd just lost our house in a fire and were living in limbo in a rental while we rebuilt, and it wasn't until we were settled in our 'new' home that Bailey and Hope started to become friends, and it was a few years after that when they became best friends.
Bailey now is a bit cat obsessed, making friends with just about any feline she comes across.
I asked her a few questions:
What is it you like about cats?
Can you be more specific?
What is is that you like about Hope specifically?
She's nice and friendly. She's very soft, and she likes to snuggle.
What do you think, as someone on the autism spectrum, are the benefits of having a cat?
She can give me what no one else can. Humans can't be a cat.
We talked a little more about it. Hope seems to be able to sense when Bailey is upset, and will force herself into Bailey's space, effectively forcing comfort on her. Bailey also said that it's a bit of a texture thing. Hope is very soft, and petting her can help Bailey calm down.
We actually put a cat door on Bailey's bedroom door so that Hope can come and go as she pleases. It's one of the best home improvements we've ever done.
There are several small businesses in our area who have store cats. I don't dare go to any of them if Bailey isn't with me. If there's a cat around, she's much more likely to talk to the people in the store while she pets the cat. It allows her to split her focus, and takes some of the stress out of interacting with strangers.
We do have a dog, but Bailey just tolerates her. She says she's 'too annoying.' So, cats it is!
I haven't written anything original in a long time, though it remains on my list of things to do. Instead, I've opened an Etsy store and have been doing local craft shows, selling handmade jewelry, comic book art, and paper art. You can visit my store here. You can sign up for my newsletter here (published 1-2 times per month, your email address is never shared).
Want to win a $10 Etsy gift card? Comment below with your favorite animal!
4/18/17 Thanks to all who commented! I had my daughter chose a number between 1-9 (the number of comments), and she chose 4, which makes the 4th comment the winner.