To celebrate World Animal Day we’re looking at how animals can enrich the learning and lives of the young people who attend the charity’s Doucecroft School.
The school cares for an array of animals, including chickens, lizards, rabbits, and guinea pigs. The children visit the animals regularly and learn, not only how to handle and interact with them, but to feed, interact, and care for them daily.
The benefits this interaction provides are profound to many of the young people at the school - all of which have an autism diagnosis, and often other additional needs.
The sessions provides a safe space to relax and learn in a calm way. For example, one student who likes deep pressure likes to quietly sit with a large rabbit on their lap, providing the sensory input they need at that moment.
The connection between animals and other subjects is also explored within the curriculum at Doucecroft. For example, some children have been learning about various wars in their History lessons, and alongside this, learning about the heroic animals that have been used to support war efforts.
The students are also lucky enough to have weekly visits by Emma, Arnold the Wonder Dog, and puppy Albert.
Max said that the animals make him happy.
Chloe said she likes seeing Arnold because he's an emotional dog and Albert is a cutie. Chloe feels excited when she sees them.
Joshua said it makes him happy and he likes to stroke Arnold. It also helps him to calm down and he likes how fluffy they are!
Individual and group sessions take place between Emma and the dogs, teaching interaction between human and dog, and offering a platform for the children to express themselves in ways that they may find difficult otherwise. Arnold is a very good listener!