This part of the series was planned for a long ways down the road. Things, however, do change. In my case, a beloved pet died. I thought to myself, what better time than the present, but first…
|Rest In Peace – Tatsuo. I miss you.|
Every Aspie I know of has a thing with animals. When asked, the answer I most often receive is, “I get along with them better than I do people.” It may not be clear from an NT standpoint, but it makes sense for Aspies. Animals have VERY clear body language. They react in predictable ways to set stimuli. Humans, NTs especially, seem unpredictable and volatile to the Aspie brain. They have micro-expressions that flicker across their faces, that leave us bewildered. Animals are pretty straight forward about their emotions and can be read relatively easily which is incredibly pleasing to the Autistic Spectrum Brain.
Watch an Aspie with their pets – be they cats, dogs, horses, snakes, lizards or birds. Seriously watch them. You will see an amazing amount of love, empathy and compassion directed at this animal… and the animal will respond in kind.
So, you can understand why the death of a beloved pet can be devastating to anyone. Some would argue that it would be harder for an Autistic Spectrum individual due to the fact that their routine and life are disrupted.
I have given a great many animals a happy home in my time – rats, ferrets, dogs, cats, snakes, turtles, lizards, and one egyptian crypt spider. I loved every one of them. (Yes, even the spider). When they tied… it ripped me up inside. Your Aspie will be the same.
However, after the death of a beloved pet, your Aspie may do something that will surprise you. In most of the cases of Aspie pet’s deaths that I have seen… The Aspie wants another pet VERY soon after the pet’s passing.
This, to many Neurotypicals, seems to be a callous and unfeeling move on the part of their Aspie. This is not the case. I will break it down for you.
Autistic Spectrum individuals are very much creatures of habit. This makes change difficult. This is in both the coming AND the going. When you first purchase your Aspie a pet, there will be a great amount of stress involved in making the adjustment to the presence of the new family member.
It will be just as difficult to adjust to their loss, as well. Where an NT will probably shy away the concept of a “replacement pet”, your Aspie may react completely differently. They will mourn the loss of their animal, but their will be a hole in their life.
This hole is a great deal deeper for the Autistic Spectrum individual than it would and NT in the same situation. I am not belittling the emotional devastation felt by anyone, but it gets more intense for the Autistic Spectrum individual because we are not only in mourning, but we are also dealing with an upset in routine.
This clash of powerful emotions can lead to tantrums, depression, anxiety, sleep problems and meltdowns.
As a defense mechanism, the Aspie brain will seek to diffuse a lot of the emotional impact. One of the primary ways to do this is to fill the holes left by the missing pet. This means getting a new one – long before an NT is able to do so. If the pet was a dog, the Aspie will want another dog. If the pet is a caged animal, it will probably be a new caged animal.
This rapid replacement of a pet doesn’t mean that your Aspie didn’t love them… it means that they have to fight off the cognitive dissonance that will cause further pain and suffering. Please realize that their pain is as intense as yours, if not more so.