Autism Service Dogs Can Save Lives

Most everyone has heard of guide dogs for the blind, and there are hundreds of organizations around the world dedicated to providing these specially trained animals. Service dogs for children with autism, on the other hand, are just now catching on.service dog puppy

Autism is a serious developmental disorder that results in impaired social and communication skills. Children with autism can be very difficult to care for because of their violent outbursts, need for repetition, and habit of running away. Many times, the disorder necessitates a parent leaving their job to care for their child. Service dogs for children with autism can help families tremendously, and even save their child’s lives.

Autism Service Dogs aid in:

Keeping the child safe: Kids with autism are prone to running off, and lack the cognitive ability to determine the risk or danger of a situation. Furthermore, they may not respond to their own name, and may run away again once found. According to Unlocking, “children and adults with autism are often attracted to water sources such as pools, ponds, and lakes. Drowning is a leading cause of death for a child or adult who has autism.” A service dog can keep the child close to the parent, and retrieve the child before any harm is done.

Minimizing tantrums and violent episodes: Children with autism have trouble with new situations and people, often resulting in rages and fits. A service dog provides an aspect of life that is dependable and unchanging, which helps to reassure the child. If the child does begin to “meltdown,” service dogs are trained to climb on the child’s lap and distract him.

Encouraging communication: Kids want to be able to communicate with their new dog. Children with autism usually have difficulty with verbal communication, but dogs help them take that first step. Families report that this desire to communicate helps them build more meaningful relationships with other family members.

Stabilizing the child: Kids with autism are often more clumsy than other children. Having a dog as support means that they can regain their balance more easily, and catch themselves when falling.

Monitoring the child while sleeping: Parents of children with Autism need their sleep, but many kids should not be left alone all night. A service dog can raise alarm if the child tries to escape, and can distract the child from self-harming behaviors.

Building confidence: These children have real difficulty in social situations, and have a hard time making friends. A dog provides an easy topic of conversation, and makes the child feel like an expert.

Giving peace of mind to the parents: Service dogs can allow parents to take the whole family to places like the zoo or park, which was previously unthinkable. Moms and dads don’t need to constantly fear their child will run away and get hit my a car, or drown.  A trained dog also allows parents more time to pay attention to their other kids- who sometimes feel jealous of the amount of attention a child with autism needs.

Unfortunately, autism service dogs are not easy for most families to get. Whereas many guide dog organizations receive enough funding to provide dogs free of charge, autism service dogs do not have the community support necessary to be freely available. Getting a service dog from the ASDA (Autism Service Dogs of America) currently costs over $13,500. Check out these touching stories from the ASDA and consider donating to help a family with the cost of a trained service dog.

If you’d like to help, but cannot donate, please post this information to your Facebook or Twitter account, and help get the word out!

About BredByBitch

Hello! My name is Dani, and I've been in the "dog world" since I was 8 years old. My mother raises and breeds Irish Wolfhounds, which was my introduction to the show ring. I showed in Junior Showmanship for many years before aging out and getting my first German Wirehaired Pointer. I live in Tucson, AZ with my German Wirehaired Pointer, Luke. Luke is my man, from my first home-bred litter of wires.

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