Autism Assistance Dogs are not only a living miracle to the affected child, but also to the entire family. These special dogs are trained to assist the child, and the parents of the child, in a variety of ways.
Types of Assistance
If your child has a tendency to dart away from you, or if you have trouble holding on to your child for guidance, our dogs can be trained to assist in a form of guidance themselves. Little Angels Autism Assistance Dogs can wear a special “tether” harness that has a leash attached to the belt loop or harness of your child. When the child tries to dart away the dog is trained to resist this pressure, thus keeping your child safe. Not only does this keep the child out of danger, but over time it can also teach the child to stop darting. Many children who struggle against having their hands held by their parents do well with following a dog they are tethered to. Regardless of a tether being used or not, many children find satisfaction in holding onto a special handle attached to the dog’s vest that is designed especially for them. It gives them a sense of confidence and security to feel that they are walking their own dog. This can also keep a child focused on the dog and keep other distractions at bay.
Many parents come to compare their autistic child to Houdini due to the fact that they are able to disarm alarms and open locks within seconds. It seems that no matter how many precautions are taken, that their children still find ways to wander from the house. Little Angels Autism Assistance Dogs can also be trained to track and locate the child by scent. This is a similar task to “Search and Rescue”, only the dog has learned to track down one specific individual. Training such as this is invaluable to keep a child from becoming lost or injured.
Some children with autism demonstrate repetitive behaviors such as flailing their arms, hitting various surfaces, stomping their feet, etc.. Parents often say that just a simple touch to their child’s arm will interrupt these behaviors so the child is redirected. Our dogs can be trained to recognize these signs from the child, and paw at their leg to interrupt the behavior.
Children with autism have shown enormous improvement with social skills, communication, and even facial recognition when placed with an assistance dog. Our dogs wear a special identifying vest when out in public with their child, which labels the dog as an Autism Assistance Dog. When individuals notice the “ask to pet me” inscribed on the vest, the child is invited to communicate about their dog. In the beginning the descriptions are simple, such as the name of the dog, the color of the dog, etc., but over time discussions become more complex as the child explains how the dog helps him, and what they like about their dog.
Dogs are not judgmental, and they accept us for who we are. They are a constant companion that offers unconditional love and devotion. Above all the other ways an assistance dog can help, this is perhaps the most beneficial of all.