Saturday, August 29, 2009

What are Autism Service Dogs?

Lately there have been several service dogs in the news lately. Specifically Autism Service Dogs.

Autism service dogs are not widely known, and so appearance of them is causing some concern with people.

Here is a little bit more, about what exactly autism service dogs do:

Assistance and Searching, and Alert: Our goal, is reduce the child's anxiety in public, and allow them and their family, more access to a normal life. To increase the safety and remove the stress from their family, to know there child will be accounted for, by having a means to find the child should he decided to run away, try to interrupt escaping behaviors by nuzzling, or barking to alert the parent of the child's attempt to leave. The dogs also are trained to retrieve the child if they run away, by knocking them down, and holding them in one location until the parent arrives.

Increase Verbalization: To help the child to increase their verbal skills, the dog maintains eye contact when its attempting to speak, and respond to the commands. Our dogs are trained to pick out anything they understand and offer a behavior, which encourages the child to keep speaking.

Physical Behaviors: Slapping their faces, banging their head.....the dog is trained to nuzzle in and interrupt those behaviors so the dog, starts petting the dog, which as you know is a very calming act. Now they are no longer harming themselves but are hanging onto their dog.

Socialization: The child appears and is physically normal, so when they do odd behaviors, they are judged harshly by the public,(believe me I've been there) and people will be very rude to the child or the parent, and its not the parent or the child's fault. The dog is a very clear sign that there is a disorder. With children of the same age, the dog is a fun thing to play with so, kids who wouldn't play with the child before, would come over and interact with the child, when they otherwise wouldn't.

Each dog is trained for their individual clients need, as autism is such a broad disorder.

This list is just a small general overview of how these dogs help their clients. Parent's have been able to get their first night's sleep in YEARS, because they know the dog will alert them to any escaping or safety alert behaviors.

Families who haven't been out together in public, are able to go camping, and on trips with their child because of these dogs.

Children who have been pretty much home bound since they were toddlers are now able to partake in normal activities.

I could go on and on about the difference these dogs make, but you know. Anyone with a service dog/a service dog in training/even just a pet, KNOWS The impact a dog has on your life.

I can't imagine denying these kids that same chance.


Sammy and Westin said...

Awesome, just awesome. Thanks, Erin!

Kess And Her Mama said...

Thanks for sharing about this. Isn't it amazing how service dogs can enhance the quality of life of children with autism.

Miss Muddy Paws said...

Thank you for sharing! Service dogs can really enhance peoples lives, and give them a new lease or "leash" on life! It's wonderful to hear how service dogs are now being used with autistic children.

Lora said...

Erin, You are so COOL!!!!! Thank goodness for special people like you who make life so much easier and allow the individuals with autism and their families...quality of life. I know that before we got Abby Griffin had a lot of SIBS but she has been such a blessing, just as you are for so many many people. My parents will be thrilled when they see your blog because they have a dachshund and know what a huge difference Abby has made for us. Thank you for all that you do for those with autism!