I cannot prove this, but I sense exposure to animals - domestic and/or farm - from a very early age, has been hugely beneficial to Hein-Chris. While I could not touch or hug my son until he was about four years old, he allowed our Shih Tzu, Flynne - who took a maternal liking to him from Day One - to snuggle up to him and love him like I wished I could.
Having experienced this, I made a concerted effort to take Hein-Chris is Flag Animal Farm (just north of Salt Rock) (http://flaganimalfarm.co.za/) every chance we got (which was often). We became a fixture soon, and while Hein-Chris wasn’t too keen on the farm animals at first, he quickly became a fan. Animals were quite literally the first living creatures Hein-Chris would comfortably allow in his personal space.
It boggles my mind to this day. My son was deathly afraid of - well - basically everything, but animals he did not mind. Today Hein-Chris is not scared of any animal and thoroughly enjoys engaging with Flynne and our pet bunnies (yes, we have bunnies…sigh!) as well as any other animal that crosses his path. I am forever grateful for the confidence and empathy these creatures have instilled in my darling boy.