Organizations like the Virginia Beach SPCA’s Autistic Bridges programme work with local schools to discover the many unique ways pets can help children.
Virginia Beach SPCA’s Amy McNally has seen firsthand how transformative the companionship of these pets can be. From teaching kids to quell their fear of dogs to bringing them out of their shell, she has occasionally had a hard time holding back tears looking at what a difference these pets can make.
McNally remembers entering one classroom where a boy with autism informed her that he had autism, assuming that meant he wouldn’t be able to play with the pet.
“I said, ‘You’re special, you’re going to be able to treat these pets in a special way too,’” she remembers. “I put the guinea pig on his lap and he was just so sweet and gentle and tender with him it almost broke my heart.”