Saturday, November 10, 2012

Assistance Dogs for Autistic Children: Training Service Dogs || AutismAid

Assistance Dogs for Autistic Children: Training Service Dogs

by viking,
July 25th 2012

Assistance Dogs or Service dogs for Autistic children

I have included news reports and videos of children with both Autism and Aspergers Syndrome.

Watch these families on video who have been given one of these wonderful Service Assistance dogs.

They speak of how recieving an Assistance Dog has changed their child's life for the better.

Service Dogs for children with Autism

In other countries including America, Canada, UK, and Australia there are also Autism Groups who provide Assistance Dogs for Families of Children with Autism.

I have included the official Websites of these groups in these countries here too.

This is the story of Assistance Dogs for autistic children launched in Ireland.

But this program has already been going on in other countries all over the world for a few years now.

In 2006 the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind announced a new programme to assist children with autism and their families.

A new idea of Assistance Dogs for autistic children was launched.

They had decided to set up this new programme and call it Assistance Dogs for Families of Children with Autism.

Pilot program of Assistance Dogs in Ireland

There had been a pilot programme in 2004 in which eight families with Autistic childrenwere given dogs who were specially trained to the same standard as dogs for the blind for a year.

The marked improvement in the children and families lives were remarkable.

So the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind decided create this new branch of Assistance Dogs for Families of Children with Autism across Ireland.

Service Assistance dogs and Autistic children

Support for families in Ireland of children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome is growing but a lot more is needed.

There are many awareness programmes and fundraisers but the waiting list to provide every child with autism and Aspergers Syndrome that needs an Assistance dog is growing every day

The assistance dog is trained for the benefit of the Autistic child

The autistic child is accepted on the programme as long as they are less than eight years old.

Extensive training is given to the parents. When out both the parent and the autistic child have a lead on the dog.

The dog is trained to respond to both the autistic child and the parent.

A major problem with autistic children when out in public is their tendency to run off at any opportunity.

Assistance dogs make the children more confident

The child has hold of the dog’s lead but also there is a restraining lead attached to the child in the form of a waist belt.

If the child decides to run off then the dog is trained to sit down and use its strength to restrain the child from running off. The parents feel more confident about the safety of their child while out in the streets.

There are no clear physical traits to define the child with autism.

The children because of their autism often have tantrums in public.

They are stressed and anxious because of the new surroundings and the overload of sensory noise and activity around them.

To the people in the street or shops this is a child who needs discipline not a child with special needs.

There are no clear physical traits to define the child’s autism.

An Assistance Dog is a clear message to strangers that this child has autism and has special needs.

It allows the parent to concentrate on calming their child and not trying to avoid the disapproving stares of onlookers. In fact the opposite usually happens.

Now people will approach the autistic child and parent and chat about the reason for the dog and the child’s condition.

This can only be of benefit to this family and all families of autistic children as it explains the reason for the behaviour of the child.

A mother of a four year old autistic child tells how her child has changed

As one mother of a four year old autistic child explains, ‘He would sit and scream and have a tantrum. He looks adorable, and people could never understand.

I was forever being reprimanded for my naughty and out of control child. It was really stressful for both of us.’

Now that they have an Assistance Dog her child will go anywhere without incident as he is very content to stay beside his dog quietly and calmly.

Autism in Children

The reason he is calm is he feels safe with his assistance dog, he is used to the dog by his side.

So now when he is out in unfamiliar and stressful situations he is able to stay close to his dog and feel safe with the one constant in his life.

He is with his dog and his dog is with him, all the rest of the noise and activity around him is blocked out. Therefore he is calm and in control.

Benefits to the autistic child and family with an Assistance Dog

Benefits to the autistic child

Autistic children are safe when out in the streets as they are calmer and less likely to run off.

Autistic children are able to bring their Assistance Dogs along to school and can therefore concentrate better and this gives them a chance to retain more information and therefore increase their ability to learn.

Autistic children are fretful and agitated in new situations, when they have their Assistance Dog with them they can cope better with this change.

Autistic children are reliant on medication to keep them calm, but with the arrival of the Assistance Dog in their lives the need for some of these drugs is reduced.

Benefits to the family of an autistic child

The family of an autistic child would have been unable to carry out the normal functions of shopping, visits to hospitals, dentists etc without tantrums and stress.

With the change in the behaviour of the autistic child the family will have a calmer household and the parents can relax and give other children in the house some attention. They can have a degree of a normal family life.

Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind

The Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind was founded in 1976. It provides its services free of charge. The cost of providing one guide dog is €35,000.

This is for the breeding, training and aftercare that is needed. The Irish Government only provides €7,000 of this amount. The remainder of €28,000 is provided by public donations.

The Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind is a member of the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs Europe.

The Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind has announced in 2010 that due to Government cutbacks they will have to let down many autistic children and their families who are waiting for an assistance dog this year.

They need €1.5 million to train another forty dogs but have only received €150,000. Instead of the planned forty assistance dogs for families that money will only allow four dogs to be trained this year.

Since the Service Dogs for Autistic Children came into being in 2006 one hundred autistic children have received dogs.

Unfortunately there are well over another hundred families on the waiting list.

Assistance Dogs are changing the lives of autistic children and their families for the better.

Unfortunately in most countries there is a very long waiting list and the program relies heavily on charitable donations to train the many dogs needed to create a better life for these children.

Support for the Service Dogs program

The training of these dogs is very expensive but the benefits are enormous. It is time the Governments in each country was put under pressure to support the Assistance Dogs program with sufficient funding.

That way each child that needs a dog to make their life better would have that chance as their right.

There are links to support services for families of children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome in the UK, America, Canada and Australia.

© Copyright 2012. L.M.Reid

This Hub was last updated on July 25, 2012

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Garlic Angel 2 years ago from Dublin

Great hub lots of great information on it.. Dog is a mans best friend as they say...

Mabye this hub will generate enough information and some funding may come of it so that even one more child can be helped...

Great hub like I said and look forward to your next one...

BJBenson 2 years ago from USA

I think dogs are great. They help with so many things and all they want is love from us.

I am a cat person but even I know the value of a good dog.

Well done on this hub of information.

catsimmons 14 months ago from Mission BC Canada Level 2 Commenter

This is a great hub! Voted up.

My partner has severe anxiety and PTSD and he has a dog that he has trained himself to support him.

Often, just knowing that you have a fours legged pal who unconditionally loves you can relieve a lot of insecurities and diffuse tension :-)

viking305 8 months ago from Ireland Hub Author

Yes using trained dogs to help children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome is very successful all over the world.

But like everything else in this world there are not enough of them because of the shortage of money.

Mrs Collins in Australia. Good luck with your new assistance dog for your son I am sure it will help him a lot.

Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

Marie-Claude Roy 6 months ago

Great news!

"Canine Angels" is now available in e-book.

Take a look at:

viking305 2 months ago from Ireland Hub Author

Kim, it would depend what country you are in. I have given links to the major organisations for assistant dogs at the right hand corner at the top of this article for a few countries.

The best thing to do would to contact the relevant website and email them.

Hello Marie I will have a look for that eBook, it looks interesting

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