For many on the autism spectrum, animal therapy has proven to be successful. When we think of animal therapy, we often think of dogs, but did you know cats can help people, too? The folks over at the Autism Society of Southern Arizona can teach everyone a thing or two about this, as they recently created the Purrs for Autism program.
In conjunction with the Hermitage No Kill Cat Shelter, the Autism Society of Southern Arizona began offering a cat therapy program designed for kids on the spectrum. What they found surprised them. Nicole Glasner, executive director of the Autism Society of Southern Arizona, explained in The Mighty:
“[Lee Bucyk, the executive director of the cat shelter] had been doing research on how animal therapy could assist children on the spectrum and the idea of a cat-centered pet therapy program was born. It is a win-win situation for both organizations. Because those with autism can often lead very isolated lives, this is an opportunity for our kids to connect with something very real and very fuzzy, and it is a chance for the cats to become socialized beyond the shelter and get tons of snuggles.”
So, how does it all work? The program will have kids and teens with autism ages 5 to 18 meet once a week to play with two to three homeless kittens and cats. In addition to playing with the cats, the kids will also learn how to care for the cats–and how to adopt them. The weekly program is free, which is the best part yet, as it’s accessible to all families. Glasner went on to say how it’s been a big hit so far:
“For those who attend, it has been nothing short of amazing. The children come out of their shell and learn life lessons from these beautiful cats. The program takes steps to teach pet responsibility (pet safety and cat behavior) and routine, while promoting therapeutic and educational interaction between friend and feline.”
To learn more about the program, visit the Autism Society of Southern Arizona’s website. Don’t forget to check out the video about it below: