I noticed something very interesting the other day about my children and our pets. Suddenly the pets seem to be more attached to the boys. Every time my oldest sits down on the couch he has a 60 lb wheaton terrier throwing himself into his lap. The boy then proceeds to spend the better part of the next hour scratching the wheaton. This of course makes the labradoodle jealous so he comes over for his time. The bichon doesn’t even try. She just heads over to me for her daily dose of attention. The interesting thing about all of this is that in his almost ten years the wheaton has hardly noticed the boys. I don’t know what happened. But it is nice to see. There is genuine mutual love.
They say that dog therapy is good for children with autism, besides the want of a family pet, that was the reason we got the dogs in the first place. But the dogs always seemed like my dogs and my husbands. They really never attahed to the boys. Oh, that is not to say that the boys were not higher in the pack than the dogs. The animals knew that instinctively but they just didn’t go out of their way for the boy’s attention. Now the labradoodle even cries at the ede of the older one’s bed if he is not getting up fast enough to play with him. The wheaton rolls around on the younger one to wake him altogether. It’s actually nice. The boys have always been empathetic to others, and have done alot of charity work, but its nice to see a daily dose of caring for a living dependent creature. They access a different kind of understanding of compassion that is very fufilling.
In fact, some of our latest discussions have been about animal cruelty and how the boys just don’t understand it at all. The younger one has always been somewhat of an animal activist. I remember as a small boy, actually middle school, I could not take him into the butchers because he would just fall apart. One day he saw that the chickens were "young" on the label, well all hell broke loose. He started balling so bad I had to have the butcher tell him that it did not mean the chilcken did not have a long good life. He stopped crying long enough so I could buy dinner, and the butchers went in the back and had a laugh. I also had to stop him in the A&P from trying to break open the lobster tank. He was going to save all the lobsters. I am actually really proud of his concern for animals and how they are treated. Because of some physical issues I have not allowed him to go vegetarian ( I know any strict vegetarian will have issues with me), but I know eventually that is the choice he is going to make in his life.
Caring for animals and concern for those who are defenseless is such a wonderful empathetic emotion. They say animals are intuitive about good, caring people. Follow the animals. They know if they are loved and they feel it from my boys on a daily basis. Don’t let anyone tell you that those with ASD can’t love and feel emotion. We parents know better and its not wishful thinking.
Until next time,