How a hamster is helping my aspergers daughter

We have a new addition to the family.  A syrian hamster that we bought for our daughter for her birthday recently.  Small, cute and fascinating to observe, this little animal has enchanted us all particularly our daughter who has become like a little mother to her pet.  It is wonderful to see her growing attachment to him and how serious she is taking her caring responsibilities and it is also lovely to see how he is helping her in other ways too.

The difference he is making to her started almost from the moment we got him.  No sooner had we brought him home that I started to talk to him in a high pitched voice, similar to how we talk to babies.  My daughter asked me why I was talking in such a silly way and I replied that her hamster was cute and dependent on us in a way a baby was and so it was natural to talk like this.  She said nothing and the subject was dropped but then a few days later I heard her also adopting this ‘babytalk’.  This may sound very ordinary to many people but for my daughter this is quite significant as she usually talks in an unemotional way which you could describe as ‘flat’ at times.  Too see her expressing herself like this and to shower love on a little animal is so lovely.

Even more wonderful has been her newly found confidence and an interest in learning about hamsters.  Such is her animation that, with some help from me, she has set up a little ‘hamster’ blog.  It is a very new blog and is currently only open to comments from family members but with her permission I have included an extract from her blog describing the day she got him.

On the 24th of June I got a new hamster and I called him Skittles.  I called him Skittles because I was making a cake and it had chocolate fingers and skittles on it and I thought Skittles was a good name because I love skittles.

Skittles has orangey coloured fur.  He has a cute nose, small ears and a mini tail.  When I got him he was in a box trying to nibble out.  We got him a cage with a  tube. The tube goes inside then goes outside the cage.  We got  him a wheel to run on.  He loves the wheel.  We got him a food bowl and a water bottle which all caged animals need.  He has a mini house with bedding inside.  He has hamster meusli but he doesn’t like the round green and red food.

I have never had a pet hamster before so I don’t know what he does.  A few days later we cleaned his little house out.  He went and made another nest in the tube.  We didn’t know what he was doing so we looked up hamster behaviour on the internet and it came up with a funny story about someone’s hamster who always runs up and down his tube.  On July the 4th, he took every bit of his food up his tube.  He did it all night and in the morning we all laughed because he stored all his food in the tube.

I am so proud of her.  She has had such a difficult year that I have really worried about her health and whether she would ever reengage with learning but it seems that this little animal is helping her to find some confidence at long last.


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6 Responses to How a hamster is helping my aspergers daughter

  1. JuliesMum says:

    How well your daughter writes! And the hamster looks extremely cute. How lucky he picked such a visible place to nest – when we have had rodent pets they have always hidden themselves in the darkest most inpenetrable place!

  2. What a fab idea. Glad to hear it’s helping her – and all of you x

  3. Violetsdiary says:

    That’s lovely. I love her writing & the idea of a blog for the family my son really wants a pet & we had thought of a hamster because they r small & it’s something he cld look after but someone said they are nocturnal. Does it wake up & play in the day or is it nocturnal?

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Hi Violet, we have noticed that our hamster gets active late evening so my daughter gets to see him climbing, running on his wheel etc. Sometimes he is also active during the early morning before he settles down to sleep. What is really interesting is that he has moved his nest into the tube and because its transparent we can see his nesting and storage habits. He also stirs during his sleeping spells and will get up and rerarrange his nest. What we’re finding is that looking after them (particularly cleaning the cage) is not as straightforward as some of the books suggest. If you remove all the bedding for instance the hamster will think that a predator has been in and will become stressed and in our case he moved his nest. So now we’ve learnt to only remove the dirty bedding. There are other things to consider besides this so I’d recommend a book or looking online but for older children I think a hamster is a great pet. It is absolutely fascinating watching them. Deb

  4. Lizbeth says:

    Your daughter sounds lovely. It’s amazing when something such as a hamster transforms them. I love it. My son did the same baby talk when we brought home his younger sisters….I wish I would have know then I could have just gotten a hamster. :) And I’m just being silly, I love my girls to bits!

    • Aspie in the family says:

      …. and you don’t get dirty nappies and feeding bottles either Lizbeth! Seriously though, he’s great and my daughter loves him to bits. Deb

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