Latest Treatment For Autism: Dogs

We are familiar with sight dogs and hearing dogs but could dog do so much more? Could they be the ultimate emotional therapy for depression, mental illness or in this case – autism:

‘Tara Jade Brown, of Parafield Gardens, says the arrival of Pepper last May made a huge difference for son Isaiah and the rest of her family. “Before Pepper came into our lives, we really were just hostages in our home. It wasn’t safe to take Isaiah out of the house,” she said.

The family had discussed Pepper coming to live with them, but were unsure if Isaiah understood.

But then he made a bed for her and was able to give her commands to sit and come.

“We had never really known how much of what we were saying was getting through to Isaiah,” Ms Brown said.

Pepper became a best friend for a child who could not relate to people, sharing Isaiah’s bed and comforting him when he had moments of temper, which used to occur four times a day and now happen once a week.

“Pepper has made the difference between surviving our own lives and living them. We actually went out for dinner,” Ms Brown said.
“It’s that real freedom that we can do things that any other typical family would do and we don’t have to worry about him being hit by a car.

“At the end of the day, Isaiah still has autism, he still has all of those challenges associated with an autism spectrum disorder, but Pepper really does help him navigate this world.”

Guide Dogs SA chief executive Kate Thiele said the dogs – which cost more than $25,000 to train – provided safety, inclusion and comfort for families of children with autism.

“As a parent, you know that your child’s safety is paramount, so the peace of mind that a Guide Dogs Autism Assistance Dog can provide is invaluable,” she said.

The mother of seven-year-old Ben Kaye Hayward, from Highbury, hopes an assistance dog will enable her son to interact with his family…’

There are great benefits in this kind of co-operation with dogs. Dogs have acute senses, they perceive changes in human body we are not aware off and they can sometimes act as a stand-in for a full time human carer. As dog owners we already know the incredible benefits their companionship bring. Let’s hope that this expansion will herald increased understanding and appreciation  of dogs everywhere.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

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