The benefit of companion and assistance dogs I have witnessed for children with autism and others with disabilities, in the UK and Internationally has been life changing for the client and their family! In Frankfurt in October 2007, I attended the Assistance Dogs International conference to share knowledge and lessons learned from Dale and Henry.
I couldn’t ignore the burning question.
“Why shouldn’t others with autism and disability… have a friend like Henry too?”
I’ve developed transitional resources for an educational programme, with dog welfare at the forefront, in a guidance manual on how to achieve a successful partnership between the
“Client” and dog. The child or adult learns, that like them, dogs have emotions and needs. My programme recognises how a child with ASD and learning difficulties learns being mindful of literal learning for those with ASD!
The program is based on my own research and experiences from both my books. Reading both books isn’t complulsary, but strongly recommend for those interested in using a dog to help a child or adult with autism or disabilities. My programme addresses individual needs, with appropriate short and long term educational objectives. Resources I’ve developed, are basic and help siblings to be involved.
I’ve ensured there’s opportunity for progression without unnecessary and intrusive change. Naturally, I use the child’s obsession which increases the child’s bonding with the dog. As I created the program, I have adhered to… JimTaylorknowsautism.com… advice … to keep things real!
With Dale, weeks before Henry the puppy arrived, I used a little soft yellow Labrador toy, in tandem with real equipment. We brushed and fed the toy, sang dog songs daily, as if the toy was real. From this I’ve included in the program what I now call, “The Cuddly Pack.” This was developed with the help of another unique autistic mind my daughter Amy!
I’ve been able to tap into both my children’s autistic minds to ensure I’ve got the resources and my approach using the dog as an educational facilitator… right! The potential for fun, imaginative and educational play is clear and long-lasting. The manual guides the “user” through a… four stage… programme, that takes the child or adult through life transitions until the dog’s demise. I’ve adopted the traffic light system which is often used in schools. Red Stage – stop and prepare the child for what a dog needs. Yellow Stage – wait and prepare the child for the real dog coming. Green Stage – go for education and best independence possible using the dog as a facilitator.
For later, hopefully much later, the Blue Stage. The child learns the dog is old, is taught the concept of Heaven through an adapted children’s story book about a dog, and learns to let their pet… go!
Interested parties who buy the manual can access my service to support them through the program, as a mentor or on a one to one basis.
The manual can be purchased and posted through this website.