courtesy Pets in the Classroom
It doesn’t take long for classroom pets to become classroom friends for young students—especially those with autism. Multiple studies have shown that students with behavioral and social issues are positively impacted by interaction with a classroom pet—and teachers agree:
We have seen a great turnaround in classroom behavior, now that we have our classroom pet, Buddy Boudreaux (guinea pig). I work with students on the autism spectrum in grades 5-6. We have many moments of frustration and sensory overload that often lead to meltdowns within our classroom setting. Buddy has helped so many of our students feel better when they get to just sit and read to him. They look forward to earning reward time to hold him, interact with him, and help with some of his pet responsibilities (such as feeding, filling water bottle, etc.).”
– Jennifer Porche, Special Education Teacher, Florence, AL
“I have a couple of Autistic students and [Charlie the Bearded Dragon] often sits with them and helps them on days when things are out of sorts. It is amazing! The biggest success story for Charlie is that we have a student in an emotional/behavioral class that has a really hard time fitting in. He gets very angry at times, and when the teachers weren’t able to calm him down with the usual strategies, we found [him] just holding and talking to Charlie for a few minutes—works every time. He simply comes to my room, and we take Charlie out, and he holds, rubs, and feeds him by hand, and that does it. It’s like a small miracle.”
– Erica Hornick, 4th Grade Teacher, Toccoa, GA
Jennifer and Erica aren’t the only teachers who have benefitted from the use of a classroom pet. Through the Pets in the Classroom grant program, over three million children in over 70,000 classrooms throughout the US and Canada have gotten to experience pet care through classroom pets. The American Pet Products Association supports the work of Pets in the Classroom. To find out more, or to apply for a grant to bring a pet into your classroom, visit http://www.petsintheclassroom.org.