For centuries animals have kept man company throughout his daily life. In the mid to late 1900’s doctors began to notice the therapeutic effect of animals on their disabled or handicapped patients. More recently, an animal therapy program was extended to hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons. By now we’ve all heard of all different types of animals- cats, dogs, dolphins, horses, elephants, birds, rabbits, and other small animals, utilized in therapy for special-needs children.
The animals have been proven to drastically improve the patient’s physical and emotional health, as well as his self-confidence and communication skills. Animal therapy has been invaluable for nonverbal children who crave companionship from a living being they don’t have to communicate with. Ironically, many times it is from this kind of relationship that the child begins to speak his first words.
For people who can’t have an animal in their home for whatever reason, there is another option. Sweet Dream Farm and Young’s Funny Farm are examples of farms open to the public with specific hours set aside for special-needs visitors.
I’ve never had much to do with animals since I can barely care for a goldfish, but I find this topic interesting.
Have you tried animal therapy? Let us know your experiences!