Not many people know what an autism assistance dog is, or what it does.
But, for those who have one, it creates a world of possibilities - from simple things like friendship and unconditional love, to safety and comfort.
Righteous Pups Australia, based in Bendigo, is the only organisation in the country that trains assistance dogs for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
In doing so they work closely with 4 Paws for Ability, based in the United States, which partners with other organisations worldwide to train and place the dogs.
4 Paws for Ability found that children with ASD appear to form bonds with assistance dogs in ways they are unable to with other children and even their own family.
Often, they display behaviour towards the dog that is rarely, if ever, exhibited towards human companions.
The dogs, which cost around $29,000 to rear and train over a two-year period, are placed with recipients at no cost, with the help of donations from the public.
For more information go online to righteouspups.org.au.
AUTISM ASSISTANCE DOGS
- The dogs are trained for a number of general supporting behaviours and RPA works with families to tailor the dog to best meet the needs of the recipient.
- RPA has partnered with 4 Paws for Ability to educate trainers to train the dog to track (through scenting) an autistic child that has wandered off, even if they have been missing for an extended period. The dog will quickly lead an adult carer to the child.
- Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder struggle to form and maintain social relationships. The dog becomes a pivotal companion for the child and often a gateway for other children to want to connect through the dog.
- Children with ASD live in a world where they participate in ritualistic and repetitive behaviours. An assistance dog is trained to disrupt these behaviours.
- The dogs are taught to partner a child into public settings and keep itself and the child safe at all times.
- The desire of RPA is that the dog will become a source of comfort and consistency when environments change and anxiety levels might tend to rise.
Source: Righteous Pups Australia