Just the simple pleasure of having a bunny sit quietly in your lap is intensely soothing. There is nothing quite like a loving trusting creature cuddling up against you. A bunny seems to know when somebody needs him. “Special needs and neurotypical children alike benefit.” (Tender Loving Ears.com) A bunny’s unconditional acceptance makes the child feel included and loved.
A rabbit is safe and nonthreatening. Children who are afraid of dogs often benefit from connecting wwith a rabbit. Interaction with a rabbit teaches empathy for loving things, which children with autism lack. They can learn how to read body language. Animals do not mask feelings the way humans do, making it easy to read them. It gives the child with ASD the opportunity to look outside himself and at the surrounding environment by observing a rabbit and his play.
“Studies have shown that interaction with animals sparks social interaction and laughter. Studies have also shown that interaction with rabbits breaks down barriers.(Ibid.) Children with ASD are more relaxed and willing to talk during or after animal visits.
There are two types of placement for therapy rabbits. The first is bringing a rabbit to a facility such as a school, nursing home or community group for hands-on learning and interaction. Tender Loving Ears and other groups also place a rabbit with an individual or permanent basis.
Rabbits have a long lifespan, more than ten years and many specific requirements. “Anyone considering adding a rabbit to their family should carefully research books and web sites on rabbit care before making a decision.” (Petfinder: How to Care for Domestic Rabbits)