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Why Animals Comfort Me as a Person With Autism

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In a world that is often difficult to process and understand, animals have played a big role in the comforting and healing I have felt when recovering from psychological problems through having autism.

You probably wouldn’t be able to tell I have autism unless you personally knew me and witnessed me having a meltdown. However, I have huge difficulties with sensory processing, relating to other people, understanding other people and coping with my emotions.

Being around animals feels comforting to me because they aren’t judgmental. I often feel judged by people because of my differences. Perhaps knowing my traits, behavior and interests are somewhat different to others makes me feel like I am being judged, rather than actually being judged, but either way I feel it. If I have experienced emotional trauma, change or a meltdown, being around an animal is very comforting and mesmerizing for me. The simple touch of a dog’s fur or the sound of a horse neighing brings me solace and peace.

I feel like I can relate more to animals than people. I know a lot about animals, and I understand them a lot better than I do people. I also find I have deep connections with certain animals such as dogs, cats and horses. I’ve had deep relationships with all of these animals previously, and have been utterly devastated when animals I love have passed away.

When I was younger I had a grey and white cat called Bonnie. She was a lovely little cat, and was so affectionate towards me. Growing up I knew I was different; I was just unable to explain why I felt different. Whenever I struggled with these thoughts, I would stroke and make a fuss of Bonnie, and I instantly felt at peace because I knew she would never judge me or take me for granted. I even felt the tingles running down the back of my head and back when she would purr and rub her face against mine. Sadly, most of the time we outlive our animals. Bonnie was taken to the vet and was put to sleep peacefully. I was truly devastated. My little cat who comforted me in times of need was gone. I now had no one to bring me peace when I felt different.

Bonnie was the first animal to show me why I feel relief from sadness when around animals. I am thankful I found something that comforts me when I’m struggling and helps me feel happy again.

Getty image by HaizhanZheng.

Originally published: April 24, 2018
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