Oh, they said to get a dog, its great for kids with autism. It will be his friend. It will help him speak. It will help with his behaviour. It will calm him down. Get a dog you won’t know yourselves. It will teach him empathy. And yes for some it is the answer and it does help.
But for us, it was a sad state of affairs when the family pet had to be rescued from our home. We got a beautiful little Jack Russell terrier and named him Pepsie. But for my 5-year-old son with no empathy and a wicked sense of humour the dogs days were numbered. It was all cute and fluffy with gentle hugs and little walks for about a month. Then I would glance out the kitchen window to see the dog being shoved down a slide. Being bounced with on the huge trampoline with pee dripping from the dog as he flew into the air in terror. Son and dog chasing around the garden happily at first glance then realising the dog was running for his life with my terrorist of a child chasing him with a weapon of some sort – sweeping brush, toy truck, basketball, all innocent enough until they hit you. The list goes on. The final straw was when I found my son with the dog in a headlock pulling out his eyelashes.
Empathy is such a difficult thing to teach others and my son just didn’t understand what he was doing was cruel. He did, however, improve in his speech in a way, he could bark, growl and howl perfectly. He could now also drink from a bowl…interesting and very difficult to actually do. Lol, that’s when you know you’re the mum of a child with additional/special needs. When things like this make you proud.
Anyway, our beautiful little Pepsie was rescued from our home. We waited for 4 years before we introduced another dog. This time a medium sized dog, Teddy.
And I have to say it is working out well. We do have to be watchful and continue with empathy lessons and a good bond has formed. My son and the dog howl beautifully together…its actually like their song.
Dedicated to my wonderful sister and pet rescuer Siobhan xxx