The effect of pets on children with SPD??

by anonymous

Our oldest (adopted) daughter, has recently been diagnosed with mild SPD (under responsive to proprioceptive input to be precise i.e. she is sensory seeking), likely to have been caused by her low birth weight (3 pounds) and confinement to her cot for the first 1 1/2 years of her life (in the orphanage). We adopted her at the age of 2 and she is now 4 1/2.


In Luxembourg, where we live, SPD has unfortunately not yet truly been recognized for what it is, and not a lot of OT's have "touched base" with SPD yet. Thankfully the school she goes to has been very supportive in this respect and is open to working with a sensory diet for her.

We are currently trying to find an OT with good knowledge of SPD that can work with her on a regular basis and have been in touch with a number of people.

Several of these people have suggested that we get a pet for her (cat or dog) as this could help her?

"Horse Therapy" has also been mentioned as a help and we are currently looking into this as well.

Has anyone got any experience with pets and SPD? Could a pet have a positive effect on a SPD sufferer?

Thanks in advance for any advice on this.



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Jul 04, 2016
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Very Cute
by: Anonymous

Very nice and interesting infromation. Thanks

May 17, 2016
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Try before making a decision
by: Anonymous

My son (4 and a half years old) is a mild sensory seeking child too. We have a small dog (Cairn terrier), 4 chickens and a gecko. Our dog is sweet and patient but she always end up growling at our son because he is too tough with her. He gets too excited and can't help hugging and squeezing not only the dog but also the chickens (yes, he can catch them!). We have to pay attention all the time to make sure he is not hurting the animals.

Thus, I would say the same somebody mention before: try to experiment first. Expose your daughter to different animals and see how that experience affect her. And don't try only once, try several times, different days, different animals, different contexts before arriving to a conclusion. By doing that you will know if it is a good idea or not to have a pet and exactly what pet is the best for your daughter. Best wishes for you and your little one! :)))

Jan 14, 2014
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severe
by: Anonymous

My son is age 4 and a half and has severe SPD effecting all sensors also. I got a cat thinking it would have a calming effect on him, he can be quite rough unintentionally and gets swiped often. Am not sure whether to continue persisting or reghome the cat! :-(

Nov 09, 2010
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pets a yes for us
by: Anonymous

Our 7 y/o daughter has an SPD diagnosis - she's a very calm compassionate sensory avoider, with low muscle tone. My 4 y/o daughter doesn't have a diagnosis, but she's definitely a sensory seeker and pretty much the exact opposite of her very calm older sister. We got a standard poodle puppy when the girls were 6 and 3 which has been a HUGE help for both of our girls.

The older is motivated to get active, running, hiking, playing frisbee and generally playing while the younger more active sister is drawn to and soothed by petting, cuddling and being gentle with the dog and our cat.

I would caution that if I'd known how much work a puppy and 2 little kiddos was going to be, I might not do it over again, but of coarse we love our Bella and wouldn't trade her for a million dollars.

The other benefit I have seen, which I don't think is unique to SPD kids, but it can be especially important for them, is that having the responsibility of a dog has given my oldest self confidence and a sense of pride in knowing that she is really good at taking care of and participating in the training of our dog. She is looking forward to bringing Bella to the school talent show later in the year to perform tricks together.

good luck!

Nov 03, 2010
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get labrador
by: Anonymous

Hi
I have 2 children with SPD. Both of them diagnosed at age 1. We got a dog when my first child was 5. He had to get used to handling the dog but it was a great positive experience for him. Labradors are known for their therapeutic effect and can be thought not to bark (both my children have problems with sounds). My youngest does not like the licking but the dog has learned to back off with her. As the dog is a Labrador they can do almost anything with him. He is great! Good experience for the children.

I also must say that both my children love horseback riding, but it is expensive!

Good luck!

Apr 01, 2009
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Yes to Pets is a "Maybe"
by: Leslie

I don't think there's an across the board answer to your question, as each child is so unique.

Our experience is that animals, of all sorts have been beneficial on a limited basis, in another words, limited exposure.

Our son, 10 yrs, ( with CP,as well as SPD) can be pushed "over the edge" with a dog that is too friendly and licks and licks or stays too close too long. He loves the horse riding experiences,as long as it is not too breezy; and the fish in the aquarium has a calming affect on him (sight and sound). We expose him to the touch of a variety of baby animals as they appear: kids, chicks, kittens, puppies.

My advice would be to experiment before making a commitment or purchase to be sure that the choice of pet will not be overbearing and overstimulating.

Apr 01, 2009
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In two minds.
by: Anonymous

My son has quite severe SPD and is affected in all senses, he is seven and was diagnosed about a year ago after lots of assessments. One of the things that concerned me about his behaviour was how rough he would be with our Pets.I had bought the animals into the family all bar our first dog for my son thinking it may help to settle him and give him something to focus on,unfortunately this was not really the case,he would find it difficult to touch the animals gently and slowly, he would rush in on them and they would excite each other to heights of frustration.

When the diagnosis came and I read up on SPD I could see why things had been awkward, he never meant to hurt the animals or be unable to regulate his excitement but I have found it a very hard mix at times as I need to keep them all separate at times to protect them all.

Mar 31, 2009
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hooray for pets!
by: Anonymous

Hi Henrick

Yes I've found that fish in my daughters bedroom help her sleep. the aquarium acts also as a night light as well as makes quiet white noise from the filter. We also have dogs and cats. It took her many frustrating years to learn how to be gentle with the animals. We recently took in a stray dog that is a small mutt(we already have a very gentle great dane and a shephard mix) and she loves this little dog so much she reminds herself not to be so wiggley when she wants to hold the dog and to be calm. They walk together and sit in the sun. But really, really put the energy into finding the right, calm disposition in any pet and commit to proper training. An untrained animal gets too stressful too quickly. A lower energy breed or breed mix is so valuable to help kids!

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