Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide
ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Through my life there have only been a few friends that have stayed by my side in almost all parts of my life. Those friends are my pets. Everybody loves their pets, but I’ve found that I have a special attachment with mine. As far back as my memory goes I’ve had a total of two dogs and one cat that I had special affection towards.
The first dog that I felt connected to was Summer. She was a yellow lab that had the most gentle and patient temperament. When I was little she would let me do all kinds of silly things with her, but she would never seem to get angry with me. The clearest thing that I remember about her was that I would lay on the ground with her and hold her close.
My cat Sleepy is possibly my oldest friend. I can remember him coming into my room as I was getting ready to sleep and lay on my chest for me to pet him, occasionally laying too far up and seeming to try and strangle me in my sleep. Now he lies in my lap almost any time that I sit down and cross my legs on the couch, eventually curling up and napping in my lap. My fondest memory of him is sitting in front of our fireplace during a cold winter and petting him as he soaked up the heat and stared into the flames.
The current dog that I feel connected to is Xia Tian, meaning summer in Chinese. Xia is an Akita mutt that we rescued as a puppy after Summer died. Like Summer, Xia has a gentle nature, but is very protective. I feel a very strong connection with Xia because I was the one to name her and teach her many things. The extent that I care about Xia was revealed a short time ago when my my family was deciding whether or not Xia would fit in our new house. My parents proposed sending Xia to another family. The thought of losing Xia upset me so much that I ended up punching a door and cried for the first time in years. After I was able to get a handle on my emotions I agreed that we needed to do what was best for Xia, but asked that we try to work with Xia so that she could stay with us. My parents decided to keep Xia and to work with a trainer so that we could learn how to adjust our routines so that Xia could stay with us.
A new animal that I’m starting to feel connected to is a horse named Ike. I’ve recently taken up dressage lessons and have found that I’m a natural at horseback riding, despite only getting on a horse once before. Even though I’ve only ridden on Ike about half a dozen times, I feel a connection to him. Every time I get on him we learn about each other a little bit as we form our own language of micro-communication.
I’ve always felt a little more connected to the animals in my life than I have to most of the people in my life. The rules between animals and myself are quite simple, if I love and care for the animal they will care for me as well. Sometimes I find myself telling one of my pets about something that’s upsetting me as I pet them and find that simply telling them and feeling their fur sliding under my palm calms me until things don’t really bother me too much. The animals in my life are probably the truest friends that I have.