New South Wales, Australia — A new type of therapy for children with autism is now rapidly gaining popularity— one in which the greatest difficulties children on the spectrum face on a daily basis is being addressed without difficulty.
Assistance Dogs Australia provides a type of therapy that’s much harder to accomplish using human intervention alone— a type of therapy wherein four-legged furry friends provide comfort and emotional support for children with autism.
Through its PAWS program, Assistance Dogs Australia provides intensive training for the would-be therapy dogs, wherein puppies as young as eight months old are continually being prepared for their life-changing roles to their future owners.
One benefactor of the program is 11-year-old Jason Freeman, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s at a very young age. His mother, Tanya, says that Jason’s life had a complete turn around when his therapy dog, Brock, was brought into his life. She told:
“If Jason comes home from school and he is a bit anxious or everything feels a bit too much for him, Brock will be right there with him.
“He puts his paw up on his legs and just makes him feel like everything is alright.”
Numerous studies have long said that therapy animals can impact the lives of children with autism in numerous and tremendous ways. According to Assistance Dogs Australia CEO Richard Lord:
“There have been extensive studies that show if an autistic child has an emotional connection with an animal they will become more independent, their self-esteem can improve, their communication skills advance and they become more self-reliant.”
Assistance Dogs Australia aims to continue providing life-changing therapy dogs to children with ASD with the support of generous individuals and communities that extend help to the organization, which, for now, relies heavily on donations.
Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta
Source: Belinda Grant Geary on the Mail Online: ‘He’s just a very furry therapist’: How the unquestioning love of man’s best friend is helping young Asperger’s sufferers connect with the world