Thursday, November 17, 2011

Therapy Thursday

 I've mentioned before that Jam is a certified Delta Society Pet Partner.  Over a month ago, we were asked by a social worker who is also a Delta Evaluator, to be ambassadors and do an initial visit to a residence that is part of the Rockland County Association for Learning Disabilities and has wanted a pet therapy team for a long time.  Jam was a hit and I was honored to be asked back and offered to do weekly visits.  The residents or consumers as they are called, are mostly men in their mid-twenties with ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders) plus developmental disabilities and neurological issues and are non-verbal.
 Our visits have been powerful, for me and also for the positive effects of the therapy visits on the consumers.  Jam seems to be a calming influence and the staff see wonderful reactions, such as smiling, laughing and the individual behaviors expressed by the men.  Each visit, the men, especially the one pictured, get more comfortable with Jam and it was exciting to see him initiate petting her - a truly big deal for him.
The consumers enjoy petting Jam and helping me give commands for her to do tricks.  It is important to understand the population and know what to do to make them feel comfortable and safe when interacting with Jam and to also keep her safety paramount.  Jam loves going on the visits and gets extra special treats!

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