Animals encourage socialisation, whether it be socialising with an animal or a human, people learn valuable communication skills being with animals…
By Interchange Australia Marketing Coordinator Tahlia Bunt
The Interaction between animals and humans has been proven to increase brain chemicals that decrease blood pressure and initiate relaxation. People with sensory disabilities have been seen communicating more easily with an animal, their experiences with animals encourages them to communicate further in their future interactions with humans. Animal’s assist people with autism and have been used as tools to learn vital communicational and social skills such as empathy and expressing love.
Aquariums and fish tanks are often found in a doctor’s practice, why? Because watching fish move around in a tanks and hearing the sounds of water has been proven to calm a person down and provide sensory markers such as bright colours, bubbles, swaying plants, lighting, and swimming fish. This is highly beneficial for those living with conditions such as sensory processing disorders, autism, ADHD, developmental disabilities and for those who are easily over stimulated and lack concentration skills.
In today’s day and age, with the coronavirus pandemic, people are becoming more and more reliant on animals for companionship. These animals, especially for people with a disability who may be living on their own or have limited access to the wider community, assist in loneliness, combat feelings of depressing and feeling low. Grooming smaller animals such as rabbits, Guinea pigs, cats and small dogs, have been shown to improve hand-eye coordination, aid in dexterity and improve strength in their arms. Horse riding is incredibly popular amongst those with lessened motor function such as Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral palsy, as it can aid in mobility, posture and balance of a period of time
Animals can also assists in physical health in those with a disability, encouraging the mentality for owners to get out of the house and walk/socialise their dogs, or even just simply getting outside for a play. Animals encourage socialisation, whether it be socialising with an animal or a human, people learn valuable communication skills being with animals. As well as encouragement, animals can assist in physical health and exercise of a person, such as horse riding. Learning skills such as saddling up a horse, putting rugs on, feeding and riding all aid in learning simple life skills and aiding the movement and function of the body, encouraging more movement in daily life.
As well as comfort, animals also help in practical ways, such as service dogs for people with vision impairments, service dogs can also be trained in a large range of conditions from diabetes to epilepsy. Having an incredible sense of smell, dogs are great for identifying smells linked with medical conditions. For example, a dog trained for someone with diabetes can help in sensing the fruity smell of ketones which are produced when a person’s blood sugar is too high, or the scent that is given off when a person’s blood sugar is too low. These dogs are trained to react certain ways when they sense certain things, aiding their owner in detection. Dogs trained for people with epilepsy are trained to have certain behaviours and identify seizures and provide supports such as, lying next to the owner to prevent injury, placing themselves between the owner and the floor to prevent injury, staying with the owner to provide comfort during an episode, and even activating a device to call for help.
As well as service dogs there are also therapy dogs, who are trained in being friendly and well behaved. These dogs are very different to service dogs as they aren’t trained to assist with any life skills or illnesses, they are there simply to calm, accompany, or settle a person in a time of need. Therapy dogs often visit schools, libraries and other public spaces with the sole intent to comfort and lift spirits. Another form of a therapy dogs is animal assisted, these dogs are trained to assist a person in rehabilitation. They assist mentally or physically by helping limb movement, motor skills and every day occupational tasks that involve caring for an animal.
Whilst some animals may simply just be seen as pets, many do not realise the extreme benefits they can have on people with any kind of physical or intellectual disability. They assist in daily life skills, fitness, mobility and the mental health of many people on a day to day basis.
Here at Interchange Australia we endeavour to provide as many opportunities as possible to be around and care for animals through our services because of their incredible benefits.
Some of the many places our participants visit frequently are:
- Eureka Horse Wisdom – Equine Therapy
- Zoo Visits (Featherdale Wildlife Park, Symbio Wildlife Park, Taronga Zoo, Shoalhaven Zoo)
- Animal visits during our programs e.g. Toffee the rabbit came to visit our Goulburn house for magic tricks day!
- Werai Farm visits to pat and feed the animals
- Scenic Equine Horse Riding
- Visits from Wildlife rescuers who do talks and demonstrations for our houses.
For more information on the programs we provide give us a call on 1300 112 334 or 02 4868 6688.
We would love to hear from you!