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Animals: Activities and Ideas Families Can Try at Home

A wealth of research demonstrates the many benefits animals can provide for individuals with autism. In addition to providing companionship, comfort, and affection, animals can help fight loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Many animals can also help promote positive behaviors and social interactions in children with autism.

Animals can serve as wonderful companions to help people with autism lead fuller, more enriching lives. One way to introduce an animal into your family’s life is by owning a therapy dog. Or, if a therapy dog is not the right fit for your family, several animal activities for kids with autism can provide a wide range of benefits.

Let’s dive into the many positive ways in which engaging in animal activities can impact your family.

Therapy Dogs for Children with Autism

Therapy dogs are specially trained dogs that have been taught to provide care, comfort, and affection as a form of therapy. These dogs have become increasingly popular for families with children with autism—and given the many benefits, it’s no wonder why.

Not only can therapy dogs provide a calming and reassuring presence to children in stressful situations, but they can also encourage children to engage in social interactions and serve as conversational ice breakers.

Many families opt to choose a therapy dog that has received extensive training, while others choose to purchase one and then train it themselves. Some family dogs that have naturally calm and affectionate demeanors may serve their purpose without formal training.

Whichever route you choose to go with a therapy dog, it’s important to make sure that the dog will fit in well with the family and is a good match for the child in terms of needs and personality.

Animal Activities for Kids with Autism

Dogs aren’t for every family. Whether it’s due to allergies, your lifestyle, or another reason, it’s a reality that a dog, even a highly trained one, won’t necessarily be a match for you and your child.

Luckily, owning a therapy dog isn’t the only way to incorporate animals into your family’s life. You can still gain amazing benefits by engaging in animal activities for kids with autism. Your child’s love of animals can be used to capture their sense of wonder and improve their fine motor skills.

Virtual Activities

There are many activities that you and your child can do from the comfort of your own home. Furthermore, many of these are low-cost or free!

Animal Activities at Home

There are truly endless animal-themed activities, games, and skill-building activities that you and your child can do together. Not only will they help encourage your child’s love of animals, but these activities can improve their fine motor skills as well.

Learn More with Therapeutic Pathways

If you’re interested in learning more about animal-based activities you can do with your child, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Therapeutic Pathways. Our team knows the best techniques, resources, and strategies to help your child thrive and grow while engaging in their interests. Call Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 for more information.

1. How old is your child or dependent?

2. What are your goals for your child?

3. Has your child been given a formal diagnosis of autism?

4. What types of behavior is your child demonstrating?





Please select a value.

Readiness

Your answers indicate that your child may be best treated in the Readiness program. This individualized, evidence-based program teaches young children skills they need to accelerate their learning and gain independence. Using imitation and naturalistic learning techniques, your child will develop useful skills in the areas of speech and language, cognition, and self-awareness. A program for children ages 0-3. *This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.

Foundations

Your answers indicate that your child may be best treated in the Foundations program. This program gives preschool and school-age children the structure to achieve important social, emotional, and intellectual milestones, helping them test within their peers’ range. With 25+ hours of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy per week, your child will develop social skills and better self-awareness for school and home. A program for children ages 4-7. *This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.

Breakthroughs

Your answers indicate that your child may be best treated in the Breakthroughs program. Specifically designed for children who have limited hours due to school schedules, this program removes life barriers by developing communication, social, and self-help skills. We teach your child to engage in appropriate behaviors, helping them interact with peers and develop relationships. A program for children ages 8-11.

Interactions

Your answers indicate that your child may be best treated in the Interactions program. Through guided social skills groups twice a week, this program helps improve social functioning in children ages 5 to 16. Parent or caregiver participation is crucial to this program; our certified staff provides training for successful participation.

Independence

Your answers indicate that your child may be best suited for the Independence program. Geared toward older children, this program includes more in-depth skills that will help your child function independently. Taught skills include functional communication, self-management, and financial literacy. A program for individuals ages 12-25. *This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.

Your Child My Be Suited to Multiple Programs

Independence

Your answers indicate that your child may be best suited for the Independence program. Geared toward older children, this program includes more in-depth skills that will help your child function independently. Taught skills include functional communication, self-management, and financial literacy. A program for individuals ages 12-25. *This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.

Strategies

Your answers indicate that your child may be best suited for the Strategies program. The most age-encompassing of our programs, the goal of Strategies is to reduce challenging behaviors and issues with aggression. These behaviors interfere with independence and community participation, so we work to mitigate those challenges and encourage safe, appropriate behavior for individuals of any age. *This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.

Strategies

Your answers indicate that your child may be best suited for the Strategies program. The most age-encompassing of our programs, the goal of Strategies is to reduce challenging behaviors and issues with aggression. These behaviors interfere with independence and community participation, so we work to mitigate those challenges and encourage safe, appropriate behavior for individuals of any age. *This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.

Breakthroughs and/or Interactions

Your answers indicate that your child may be best suited to the Breakthroughs or Interactions programs. These programs treat similar symptoms, so Therapeutic Pathways will need to meet with you and your child before we can place them within the appropriate program.

Specifically designed for children who have limited hours due to school schedules, Breakthroughs removes life barriers by developing communication, social, and self-help skills. We teach your child to engage in appropriate behaviors, helping them interact with peers and develop relationships.

Through guided social skills groups twice a week, Interactions helps improve social functioning in children. Parent or caregiver participation is crucial to this program; our certified staff provides training for successful participation.

*This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.

Your Child My Be Suited to Multiple Programs

Breakthroughs and/or Interactions

Your answers indicate that your child may be best suited to the Breakthroughs or Interactions programs. These programs treat similar symptoms, so Therapeutic Pathways will need to meet with you and your child before we can place them within the appropriate program.

Specifically designed for children who have limited hours due to school schedules, Breakthroughs removes life barriers by developing communication, social, and self-help skills. We teach your child to engage in appropriate behaviors, helping them interact with peers and develop relationships.

Through guided social skills groups twice a week, Interactions helps improve social functioning in children. Parent or caregiver participation is crucial to this program; our certified staff provides training for successful participation.

*This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.

Strategies

Your answers indicate that your child may be best suited for the Strategies program. The most age-encompassing of our programs, the goal of Strategies is to reduce challenging behaviors and issues with aggression. These behaviors interfere with independence and community participation, so we work to mitigate those challenges and encourage safe, appropriate behavior for individuals of any age. *This is a suggestion based on the answers you submitted. Please contact Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to discuss which program would best suit your child.