The unconditional love and emotional support given by a service dog are immensely helpful to the child with autism and his or her family. By simply being there, a service dog provides the calming reassurance to its child who may be experiencing sensory overload, a common component of autism.
Many children with autism have difficulty relating to people, including their families. Some kids make strange noises, are non-verbal or engage in compulsive, repetitive behavior. These behaviors can and often do, alienate people, especially classmates who can be incredibly cruel. A service dog opens the door to social interaction because people want to pet it or ask questions. A service dog can serve as a bridge to the outside world, by being a companion providing unconditional love and support in challenging social situations.
The kindness and gentleness of the autism service dog helps a child just by being by his or her side. Our dogs are specifically trained to meet the individual needs of its child, helping the child develop social norms and reach his or her full potential.
When a child becomes emotionally overwhelmed and inconsolable, their dog soothes them. That’s when the parents bring the child to the dog and have them start petting their dog. Sometimes the dog lays on the child instantly calming them down, allowing everyone else to become calm as well.
When by its child’s side, an autism service dog helps by giving him or her a focal point, or a way to ground their random, unceasing environmental experiences.
Wandering and a lack of awareness regarding personal safety, which may result in a child walking into traffic, are also key behavioral aspects of autism. Autism service dogs are trained to keep a child from bolting. Ultimately, the child holds a handle from the dog’s harness and an adult holds the leash.
As a family gets involved with the customized training, we want a child to become self-sufficient. By incorporating that ideal, the child will be trained to be responsible for the safety of the dog, hence, one's self with adult supervision if needed.
Riverside Hospital Foundation Charitable Fund The Liz Weaver Foundation, Inc. Puff Darlin Chris & Jan McCormick Karen Putzke David & Karen Frances Carolyn & Doug Greene