Thursday, August 11, 2011

Animals as Medicine?

My husband was talking to me tonight about some of the children that he works with.  One child can be described as "active".  He always seems to be in motion, whether it's dancing in his seat or moving about the classroom when he should be sitting.  You might imagine that the child is ADHD, and that might be true, I don't know.  You might believe that the child would benefit from medication.  I would probably disagree, unless you are suggesting nontraditional medication.  My first thought as my husband described the situation was, I wonder if they could have a cat in the classroom...

While I was the Zoomobile Coordinator I visited a school that had a cat.  This cat roamed freely from classroom to classroom.  It was a stray that showed up on campus one day and since the school had a bit of a rat problem they let the cat stay.  The cat turned out to be more useful than just solving the rat problem.  One teacher shared that the children will lean down and stroke the cat if it came by, but it isn't actually a distraction at all.  The children make sure to check the water and food bowls (kept in the hallway) and actually learn a bit about pet care and responsibility.  I wish I could remember the school's name, that had the cat.  Or the cat's name for that matter.

Maybe if there was a cat in the classroom for the little boy at my husband's school, he would be less of a distraction in class.  He could still be "active" but his activity would be stroking a cat, which is known to have a calming effect.  What if instead of ADHD medication we allowed touchable animals in the classroom?

My cat, Rocky, as a baby
Rocky surveying the neighborhood

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