How Keeping Fish Can Help Children With Learn Disabilities

by Robert, Editor at Fishkeeping World

Children with sensory processing disorders, developmental disabilities, Autism and ADHD often need more time to process things and usually benefit from visual supports and strategies in their day-to-day lives.

Things that are seemingly easy everyday things for the majority of people can prove really difficult for those children with additional needs, for example, transitioning from one thing to the next and recognizing when and how to calm down.

The visual aid of seeing something in physical form, whether it’s as a flash card, part of a visual timetable or a real object, helps children with additional needs to prepare for and plan for upcoming things in their life.

Whilst many occupational therapists, teachers and professionals are aware of the benefits that visual aids provide children with, only a few are aware of one very simple and effective method; animal assisted therapy.

Animal assisted therapy is widely recognized in helping children with autism to form relationships, but when most people think of animal assisted therapy, they think of horses, cat, dogs and other larger animals.

This therapy also helps to improve the mood of children, and help them participate and get the most out of other therapy sessions such as speech and language, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

Most of these larger animals however, are near impossible to have in the classroom, or therapy setting.

One way to incorporate animal-assisted therapy into any setting, extremely easily, is keeping a fish tank.

Watching fish reduces anxiety and stress which is a common factor amongst children with additional needs. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that keeping fish is an effective therapy which helps with disruptive behaviors in children.

This infographic on 15 Ways Fish Reduce Stress and Improve Mental Health, shows all the ways keeping, or even just watching fish, can reduce stress and have calming effects for children.