Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

I am new here but I had a question. How is your autistic child with animals

Posted by on Sep. 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
  • 11 Replies

I don't have any autistic children or special needs children but a lot of people I know do. So I have started a little program with them that helps me, the children, and a bunch of homeless animals.  

I run a small rescue called the animal house. It is literally ran out of my house. I only take in about 5 dogs at a time and most are fosters from other large rescues. Recently, since I babysit on weekends too I have been trying to incorperate the kids and the animals. I get a lot of kids with Autism and ADHD (I have ADHD too) and they get really calm when they are petting a dog or cat or being walked around on the horse. Now I have about 6 kids that come over on the weekends. Some with disabilities, some without. I have only had to turn away about 3 kids. All had autism and all had pretty violent outbursts towards other kids,my girls and the animals. I would like for them to come back and make friends but I would like some pointers on how to control them and stop them from hurting another child or animal. Usually when a child has autism and goes through a "rage" I take them away from the situation and hold them like most parents have told me but these 3 would hurt me when I tried.

All true help would be acceptable but bashers are not welcome. Thanks

I have a dream that one day I will be judged not by my appearance but by the content of my character  -Martin Luther King Jr


by on Sep. 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
lasombrs
by Sara on Sep. 21, 2012 at 10:45 PM
1 mom liked this

Our son has autism and we had 3 cats 2 iguanas and a large german shepard dobberman mix

We had to give away two of the cats. DS did not understand the signs from them to back off, he moved to fast and frightened them, and does not understand gentle touch and they were very close to biting him and had clawed him once or twice. Sadly we had to give them away because our son was not able to understand the danger.

He also does things that frightens the dog. tries to pull her tail, throws stuff directly at her etc. It makes her angry and she barks a lot at him. She is now kenneled in a locked room. Its to hard to rehome a shepard we know she will be put down. And its not her, ds is hurting her and she has the right to be upset. But neither of them are capable of understanding they could hurt the other and they are now kept apart to prevent problems. Which sucks because they used to sleep together at night when he was little and they do love each other greatly. But you can never trust that split second of unsupervised time.

Our third cat allows our son to beat the hell out of him and barely blinks. We are working on teaching him the proper way to handle animals with this cat. He gets it some days, others he takes it to far and doesnt let go or stop when the cat has obviously had enough and needs to be pried off the cat.

the iguanas were caged and he was always pretty indifferent to them

Jenalide
by Member on Sep. 21, 2012 at 11:18 PM
1 mom liked this

I agree with lasombrs!  Our son with autism does not  recognize the warning signs of when he needs to back off or stop.  He is very rough with animals.  He tries to get on top of animals, and will randomly start pulling on  a leg or tail out of the blue!  He has gotten a little better with our dog, but needs a lot of help to use gentle touching.  We work very hard to keep him away from others pets - so he doesn't hurt them, and they don't hurt him.  Our dog usually just stays away from him, and when he sees our son coming, he runs out of the room!

kajira
by Emma on Sep. 21, 2012 at 11:28 PM

I'm an autistic adult and I have a natural affinity with most animals. My son is autistic and doesn't. He doesn't bother to observe and watch their body language, or care how they feel yet, he's not mature enough.

My daughter is NT - and has that special bond with animals.

My suggestion? Take them on 1 at a time and talk about animals, body language, and how to recongnize it.

Think of how many people who get bit by dogs who ARENT autistic because they are inconsiderate of their language and communication, add in a kid who can't understand the consquences or has no desire to bond with an animal and it can be a lot worse.

I train my animals to be manhandled, since I like to touch them in ways that may make them uncomfortable, including laying on them, touching them repetitively, randomly grabbing them, holding my cats upside down, etc.

I spend a lot of hands on training with my animals for that kind of special handling, and because of it, it has ensured none of my animals have lashed out at my son unless he's actually hurting them. I keep my son away from most of my animals simply because he won't respect their boundaries, or warning signs.

My animals and I have a special bond, and communicate well, but I don't harm them - and they trust me. They'll put up with a lot because they know that even if i'm annoying, I won't damage them.

I have a knack for picking animals and being picked by animals who bond super strongly to us.... even our goats let our kids grab them. :)

I set extreme boundaries with our son though - after I caught him repeatedly peeing on his dog when she was in his room in a crate, she's no longer allowed to sleep in there and I had to do some work to fix the fear of the crate she had from him. 

Once she realized she wasnt' sleeping in his room anymore, she worked with me and we were able to work around it. She doesn't mind our daughter, but our son she no longer likes because he pushed her too far. I don't allow my son alone unsupervised with animals because of that.

He broke my trust enough that I won't risk it... and it's not even about his feelings, it's about my animals. My animals mean a lot to me, and I won't allow anyone to harm them. ^.^

He's not mature enough and maybe won't ever be good with animals... some autistic kids aren't.

MistyMoo
by Bronze Member on Sep. 21, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Horrible. I try to keep my son away from animals of any kind. Sometimes he can be mean; pulls fur, ears, tails if he goes near animals and he thinks its funny.. Even before he touches them or goes near them they can tell that something about him is off and they avoid him; it's not just family pets who do this either, this is like random dogs and cats too. So for everyone's sake and safety I just keep him away.. BUT animals absolutely LOVE my dd; she isn't autistic though.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
PrincessMarina
by on Sep. 22, 2012 at 2:45 AM

Hey, hopefully you and I could work on being friends. I would like that, as I am an animal lover too, and I think you having a rescue, or anyone who loves animals, and doing a no kill rescue, is always an amazing thing. I used to work at one as a volunteer as a teenager when I lived in NJ. Have you ever heard of "SAVE", Small Animal Vetrinary Endorsement? They are a no kill shelter. We would get cats, dogs, rabbits, snakes, birds, ferrets, turtles, fish, and more. I used to work with the feral cats, because I am very good with cats, and they are good with me.

Anyway, on to your question. I have three boys, my oldest has nothing wrong with him and he is 10 years old. My middle child has autism, and my youngest has a combination of ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder).

All of my boys are amazing with animals. I think there is a combination of reasons for that though. We are very vigilant. We have taught them from a very young age how to act around animals, and to recognize behaviors in those animals. Growling, snarling, snapping, hair raised on end on a dog means he does not want to be bothered. A happy looking, (look they smile) dog with his hair down not snarling, snapping or growling, wagging his tail, etc is a dog that wants attention.

When it comes to the cats, we have taught them the same things. How to look for the behavior, even if it isn't too obvious, helps to keep the kids safe. We have also taught them when we are out and about town or at the park or whatever, to never touch a dog or cat for that matter unless the owner is right there and says "It's okay". They always, always, always have to ask.

We have explained to them from a young age that animals are gentle. Pull on a paw it might break. Rip at a cat's tail, and that cat won't want to trust you. Ear, tails, whiskers, paws, etc are not for pulling. We tell them the cats are gentle and the dogs are gentle and fish cannot be taken out of the water.

We are also vigilint. Any mistreatment of any animal, will be seen as a violation and a punishment will ensue. But honestly, we haven't had to punish in years and my kids are only 10, 7, and 5 years of age.

Simon's dog (Simon is autistic, high fuctioning), is a min pin. He has been Simon's best friend in the world. Odie loves Simon, follows him around, and Simon takes awesome care of him. He will feed him, play with him, walk him around our home on his leash, insists we take his dog to the dog park whenever we can, picks out his food at the store, and treats, brushes Odie at least once a day, and is gentle about it, and gives him baths when Odie needs it. He always ensures Odie has clean water, etc.

Cody, my ADHD and ODD child, has a kitten. She is pure black and a girl, and he named her Garfield. He takes great care of her even at the age of 5. He feeds her and picks out her food and toys and treats. He also brushes her and helps me with the litter boxes.

My oldest has a dog named Petie and a Siamese cat named Purdy. He does pretty much everything for them as he is much older and can do more.

We also have 3 other cats, two of them are mine and 1 is my husband's. And we have a tank of fish as well.

I don't know how to work with children who are older and have never been taught to be nice to animals. And I do not blame the parents either. Our little zoo is hard to care for, especially when you have 2 kids with special needs and another on top of it.

But maybe starting them out with the very basics, maybe offering a class on how to act around animals would help? I started my kids young, but even if I hadn't, maybe it would help to start at the beginning. Like, we don't pull on the cats, we don't rip fur or pull ears and here is why. We don't do these things to the dogs and here is why. When you see an animal outside, do not touch it or approach unless there is an owner, and you ask first, etc, etc, etc.

I bet if some of these children took the classes, the parents would be relieved. You are telling them cruelty is not okay, you are teaching them safety skills, so they won't go pick up that black and white kitty with the weird tail and bad smell, (LOL a little humor there. one of my sons saw a skunk once and I am glad I taught him that because he thought it was a kitty ).

Anyway hope I helped out, welcome to the group, this is an awesome group filled with some pretty great people, and I hope you have fun!

MommyRJ
by Bronze Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 9:27 AM
DS is good with larger dogs but nothing else. He can't understand that how he handles them is hurting them or scaring them.

We have one kitten right now that's a farm outside cat. And when Argo outside she hides. She's terrifie of him because he holds her so hard. We try to explain and show him repeatively but he doesn't get it.

We dont have a dog either or any other pets but our parents have big dogs and he's fine with them. He will cuddle with them on the floor and be good. It's just the small ones :/
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Dominosmommy
by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Poor pup. Have you tried to call any no-kill shelters to surrender him to.

Quoting lasombrs:

Our son has autism and we had 3 cats 2 iguanas and a large german shepard dobberman mix

We had to give away two of the cats. DS did not understand the signs from them to back off, he moved to fast and frightened them, and does not understand gentle touch and they were very close to biting him and had clawed him once or twice. Sadly we had to give them away because our son was not able to understand the danger.

He also does things that frightens the dog. tries to pull her tail, throws stuff directly at her etc. It makes her angry and she barks a lot at him. She is now kenneled in a locked room. Its to hard to rehome a shepard we know she will be put down. And its not her, ds is hurting her and she has the right to be upset. But neither of them are capable of understanding they could hurt the other and they are now kept apart to prevent problems. Which sucks because they used to sleep together at night when he was little and they do love each other greatly. But you can never trust that split second of unsupervised time.

Our third cat allows our son to beat the hell out of him and barely blinks. We are working on teaching him the proper way to handle animals with this cat. He gets it some days, others he takes it to far and doesnt let go or stop when the cat has obviously had enough and needs to be pried off the cat.

the iguanas were caged and he was always pretty indifferent to them


Come Join Fellow Dog lovers in the advice for Dog Lovers Group

lasombrs
by Sara on Sep. 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM

We walk her 4 miles a day ( a mile walk/run through the woods 4 times a day) and she sleeps in our bedroom with us at night she just doesnt have free roam of the house. The locked room is our bedroom. The local shepard resuce wont take her they have no room and other no kill shelters will either and refer us to the shepard rescue. They say its to hard to place a shepard with another family since they are so loyal to their original owners.

We are hoping as our son goes to more and more therapy we can help teach him the correct way to act with her and she can get to roam the house again

Quoting Dominosmommy:

Poor pup. Have you tried to call any no-kill shelters to surrender him to.

Quoting lasombrs:

Our son has autism and we had 3 cats 2 iguanas and a large german shepard dobberman mix

We had to give away two of the cats. DS did not understand the signs from them to back off, he moved to fast and frightened them, and does not understand gentle touch and they were very close to biting him and had clawed him once or twice. Sadly we had to give them away because our son was not able to understand the danger.

He also does things that frightens the dog. tries to pull her tail, throws stuff directly at her etc. It makes her angry and she barks a lot at him. She is now kenneled in a locked room. Its to hard to rehome a shepard we know she will be put down. And its not her, ds is hurting her and she has the right to be upset. But neither of them are capable of understanding they could hurt the other and they are now kept apart to prevent problems. Which sucks because they used to sleep together at night when he was little and they do love each other greatly. But you can never trust that split second of unsupervised time.

Our third cat allows our son to beat the hell out of him and barely blinks. We are working on teaching him the proper way to handle animals with this cat. He gets it some days, others he takes it to far and doesnt let go or stop when the cat has obviously had enough and needs to be pried off the cat.

the iguanas were caged and he was always pretty indifferent to them




millot310
by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 11:37 AM

our animals have done wondners for our ASD son. We have 2 cats and a golden retreiver. 1 cat stays away from everyone- in my older daughter's room. The other cat acts like a dog and actually gets along really well with the dog. They both will let both our youngr kids (ASD and NT) do basically whatever they want. Try to ride her, poke her, hit her, sit onher, lay next to her, hang on her, etc. If she was trained more, I would certify her as a disability dog, b/c she does wonders for him. I think whether kids do well with animals or not isnt necessarily an ASD thing, but an individual thing. Perhaps the parents could take their kids to the pet store and they could look behind glass and then slowly move up to coming to your place. Or maybe the kids are really just scared or dont like animals and nothing is going to change that. I know I would not want anyone to be in the position of dealing with a meltdown, unless it's unavoidable. The parents might want to stay until their kids are comfortable.

BDSMI
by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 11:42 AM

We have one cat and it has done a lot of good for our ASD son.  When Brice is frightened or upset the cat will come to him. Brice will pet it hold it til he calms down.  We also created a safe zone for our cat.  Brice understand that when the cat is in my bedroom he needs to leave the cat alone.  The cat has learned that when he needs peace he goes to my bedroom.  This has worked well the past two years. 

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)