Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Guest Post by Sandra J. Gerencher

Exploring the Animal/Autism Connection
by Sandra J. Gerencher

Children with disabilities are my inspiration.  It's real life. It's what goes on every day. The People in my life inspire me such as my adopted son with autism and my special education students at school. I was once told my son, Terry, would never speak in full sentences. Yet he speaks to our dog, Chance, as if he can understand him.

We don't know what's going on inside an autistic child's brain, but there's something different in my son's thought processes when he's talking to the dog. When I stand outside his room, I hear him asking the dog, "Are you hungry? Do you want to play?" It helps him cope with some of the issues he's dealing with.

I think animals can sense the good in people.  He is more animated with the dog. They play together constantly. When Terry misbehaves I tell him, "Chance is sad."  Then I ask, "What would Chance want you to do?" He always wants to make Chance happy. When I put it in terms of the dog, he responds right away.

My goal is to make children aware that there are kids with special needs. Kids mowadays aren't exposed to people with disabilities. Being naturally inquisitive, they need to be taught why others are different. As an educator and mother, if I've accomplished that goal with one child, then that more than satisfies me.


  Sandra J. Gerencher is the author of the children's book, Second Chance: How Adoption Saved a Boy with Autism & His Shelter Dog. She is a special education teacher in Pennsylvania's Bangor Area public school system. For over 20 years, she has worked with children and adults with special needs in such areas as counseling, behavioral research, crisis intervention and abuse therapy.


Tribute Books said...

Thanks so much for working with us on Sandra's guest post. Your enthusiasm and can-do spirit are much appreciated. We appreciate your taking the time to help us share the story behind the writing of SECOND CHANCE with your blog readers.

Best wishes,
Tribute Books

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Nicole. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I'm always happy to share about authors and their books.

Cheryl said...

I read this book. It's wonderful. I hope your readers will check it out.


Karen Cioffi said...

The book sounds wonderful. It's a great way to introduce disabilities to children and help those with disabilities.

Thanks for sharing this Susanne.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Cheryl. Did you share about this book on your blog? I can't remember. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.
Hi, Karen. Thanks for stopping by to learn more about this great book. I agree, it is a great way for children to learn about disabilities.

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss susanne! i saw this book before. its way cool. one of my brothers did lots of stuff with dd kids before he got working with mental ill people. he says their just the same as you an me and got the same wants and needs. my cousins wife does that special ed stuff and loves it. i think you gotta be just real special for doing it cause it could be pretty hard. the most best pay for it is what you get in your heart.
...hugs from lenny

Kimberly said...

What a great story. Thank you for sharing it and thanks to Susanne for the guest post.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susanne and Sandra .. what a beautiful story .. animals are amazing and can and do help us so much in our lives ..

We as people really should connect better with the earth and its creatures - we'd be happier and more able to cope ..

What you're doing is wonderful - thank you for sharing with us .. Hilary

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great post, Sandra and Susanne! Kiddos with different learning abilities touch our lives as teachers and as students. I've had student's with autism, downs syndrom, and asperger syndrome. Each of them bought a special gift to our class.

I believe that animals are really in tune with the emotions of humans.

Lynda Young said...

Dogs are amazing creatures. They are so loving and nonjudgemental. Kids respond to that.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post! My oldest has been exposed to kids with disabilities because he has aspergers syndrome. To make life easier on the learning aid at school (i.e. so she wasn't running between classes), they put the kids with special needs together. But all are high functioning. They just need extra help.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Lenny. What a wonderful thing your brother and your cousin's wife are doing. Thank you for sharing about the wonderful things they do.
Hi, Kimberly. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.
Hi, Hilary. Thanks for stopping by to check out the guest post. Thanks for sharing your comments. Animals truly are amazing in their ability to help humans.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Sharon. Thanks for stopping by to check out the guest post. I worked with a couple of children with different learning abilities, when my son was in elementary school, as a parent volunteer and one year as a Para.
Hi, Lynda. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.
Hi, Stina. Thank you for stopping by to check out the guest post. Thank you for sharing your comments.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

We were foster parents for several years, and making a difference in just one child's life is what matters.


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