There a lot of people that stand by that pet therapy can be crucial for a person on the spectrum. That a pet can help comfort psychological pain; can be there to turn to when it is hard to talk to a human being; and will not judge you based on how you act in social situations. Summing it up to that they will care about you unconditionally, just because. I have found this to be true growing up.
My family has had numerous pets throughout the years, but only two really stood out. My first dog, Holly, a beagle that I got for Christmas one year. She was my first big time responsibility. She was so tiny, that at the beginning she fit in a car cup holder and could only go one house down on our first walk. The first night of her staying in our house, she whined for a long, long time. So instead of just trying to ignore her, I went and slept next to her that first night. I realized then that we were meant for each other. Throughout the next months she got bigger and bigger. She also developed a nasty habit of digging under the fence to go exploring with her beagle friend, that lived in the house behind ours. This habit turned out to be fatal for her. One month before her first assumed birthday, I came home to hear that she had been struck by a vehicle while on one of her adventures past the fence with her beagle friend. The news devastated me. The only thing that helped me get past it, was that her friend stood by her side the whole time protecting her body from other passer byres. The family decided to take some time before getting another dog.
The other pet that stood out to me was one of our two long haired dachshunds that we got almost immediately when we moved. Her name was Maple. One of the sweetest dogs I have ever known. She always seemed to be there when I was having trouble adjusting to a new school; when I got diagnosed and was unsure of it all; and when it seemed no one was listening to me during some rough teenage years. I considered her my dog, even though she was the family pet. I eventually went off to college, but no matter how long of a time I had been gone or how old she got, she would always greet me like I had never left. I was always thankful for that. Unfortunately, time recently caught up with her at the old age of sixteens years old and died this past Friday morning.
So as a somewhat tribute, I am writing this to tell you, my readers, that pet therapy can work for many people on the spectrum, despite lack of research on the topic. So if you are on the spectrum, or know someone on it, please think about getting a pet for yourself or help someone you know to, it can go a long way for them to have a companion that is always going to be there for them.
R.I.P my baby girls
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum