The Value of Companion Animals and ADD
A pet is a valued part of the family and something that a child with ADD can help take care of. Feeding, grooming, and spending time with the animal are all ways to practice responsibility. However, the pet is a part of the family, and although the companion is not human, it does have feelings and needs. The animal should live for more than 10 years, unless there are health issues or an accident. Ultimately, it is the adults' responsibility to see that the animal is cared for, and the adults in the family must want to take on that responsibility.
Kids with Attention Deficit Disorder may feel like life is unfair to them. It is harder to work in school because of focus problems. Impulsive actions can bring them censure in the classroom and at home. A companion animal helps them move their focus from self to their pet. What does the pet need? How is the pet feeling? Developing a relationship with the companion animal is one way to help the child with ADD go outside of himself and attend to another's needs.
There are many health benefits associated with pets. For kids with Attention Deficit Disorder, lowering stress is especially important. After a tough day at school, and for our kids, too many days are tough, the child can come home and curl up or romp with a companion animal. Petting a cat or dog naturally reduces stress. Romping with the pet can also lower stress levels through exercise.
A companion animal is a deep well of unconditional love. On days when a child feels unloved and unlovable, and many of our kids do feel these things, a pet is there to give them love that they can accept. The child is greeted when they come home. The companion animal presses up against the child. A pet can sit with the child while they are reading or doing homework. Never underestimate the power of unconditional love on a child who is struggling in many areas of their life.
A companion animal isn't right for everybody. When you take an animal into your "forever home," you have made a commitment of 10-20 years. There are also significant costs involved. The first year and last year are the most expensive. The vet bills can be in excess of $1000. Expenses, including food, average $500-$600 per year. The total can be over $6000 for the life of the pet. That's a lot of money. However, a companion animal can be a life changer for a child with Attention Deficit Disorder.
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