Dog watches over children with autism

It was the dog trainer’s honesty that won Lisa McMillan over.

When McMillan asked the trainer whether she was able to train a dog to assist with her autistic twin boys, the dog trainer said, “I don’t know anything about autism.”

The mother did. And Kelli Collins knew how to train dogs. Together, they would train and raise a puppy to be a companion to the then-3-year-olds, Eric and James. Collins would work with the puppy, Caleb, on learning the boys’ scent so he could find them when they bolted. He soon would learn to comfort them, almost instinctively, when they needed a friend.

via Puppy watches over children with autism – CNN.com.

Service dog goes to school with sixth-grader with autism

Here’s a nice story from Fort Wayne, Ind., about a child with autism and her service dog. A local middle school and other members of the 12-year-old’s community raised $11,000 for the autism service dog. What a nice change of pace from recent news stories about schools banning  service dogs for children with autism!

KENDALLVILLE — Wayne Center Elementary School has a new student this trimester.

His name is Jefferson, and he walks the hallways, the classrooms, gymnasium and cafeteria on four paws. When he’s wearing his harness, Jefferson is all business. When the harness is off, he’s like most rambunctious, playful Labradors.

Jefferson is a specially trained autism service dog for 12-year-old Kelsey Fogle, a sixth-grader with multiple disabilities including autism. Kelsey is partially deaf, her speech is impaired and she can see only shadows in her right eye, but she moves about the school like other students with Jefferson’s assistance.

via Service dog goes to school with sixth-grader with autism.

Dogs and children with autism

Seven-year-old Matthew Colombo of Kitchener and his autism assistance dog guide, Cash, are a wicked team.

To start with, both are as cute as a bug so watching the bond gently forming between the pair is heartwarming and affirming.

For Chris Fowler, this bond is critical.

Chris is head trainer for the autism assistance dog guides, part of the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides’ programs where he and his wife, Heather Fowler, apprenticed.

In 1996 the couple launched National Service Dogs, a non-profit organization west of Cambridge that trains dogs for children like Matthew, children with autism.

via TheSpec.com – healthfitness – Dogs guide autistic kids.

Autistic child rides a horse in ‘Dear John’

Based on the novel by Nicolas Sparks, director Lasse Hallström’s romantic drama “Dear John” follows the relationship between Savannah Curtis Amanda Seyfried and soldier John Tyree Channing Tatum as they communicate through love letters during seven years of military deployments. For John’s scenes in the Middle East and Africa, livestock coordinator Dan Hydrick provided exotic background animals to give a sense of place.

But for Savannah’s scenes in the United States involving a young autistic character, Hydrick tackled an even more unusual challenge: teaching a young autistic actor, Braeden Reed, to ride a horse.

via Autistic boy saddles up ‘Dear John’ – latimes.com.

Lions training dogs for children with autism

As the number of children with autism has ballooned in recent years, the Lions service club has stepped up to the plate with a program to provide assistance with dog guides.

For more than 25 years, the Lions Foundation of Canada has been providing dog guides to people with disabilities, first for the visually impaired, then to people with hearing problems, those with special needs or suffering from seizures. Their newest program will place dogs with children and families living with autism, beginning in January.

via Lions training dogs for children with autism – Niagara Advance – Ontario, CA.

Horse ranch helping autistic children

ELIZABETH, Colorado – As soon as a child with autism walks onto the trail leading up to the Connections Therapeutic Riding Center ranch, their life begins to change.

So much more happens out here than a simple horseback lesson or a trot around the ranch. The time spent at the property is literally life changing, particularly for children like Kyra Barrett.

Kyra, who has autism, was never very social at home or at school, and she was particularly uncomfortable in crowds. The conditions are not necessarily uncommon for a child with autism.”

One of her biggest challenges is [being social],” Kyra’s mother, Sue Barrett said. “She’s a bright little girl, but she’s had a hard time communicating or expressing herself, doing normal things, such as interacting with kids and so forth.”Barrett says all of that changed when she started bringing Kyra to Connections nearly two years ago.

She credits Kyra’s improvement with her tolerance and her communication skills to the program’s horse lessons, which push kids to work on their breathing, physical strength, attention span and communication while walking horses or riding horseback.”It’s been so important for us to be here,” Barrett said. “I know that there’s so much more growth for her to achieve.

via 9NEWS.com | Colorado’s Online News Leader | Horse ranch helping autistic children running out of hay.

Victorious horse captures a win for a cause

Watching his swift 2-year-old thoroughbred bolt down the rail to win a maiden race at Retama Park last week, Carl Potts could feel the emotions swirling inside him.

Professionally, the victory for Potts paved the way for him to enter the horse — Downs Awareness — in more lucrative races.

Personally, it meant much more than that to the veteran horse trainer.

It touched his heart.

Potts’ 5-year-old daughter, Santana, was born with Down syndrome, and the Kentucky resident is hoping the win will help to shine some light on the plight of children with the chromosomal disorder.

via Victorious horse captures a win for a cause.

A boy with autism and his dog find a world in common

LEXINGTON, Ky. — It’s early July, and Michael wants nothing to do with the dog. The feeling, if you can judge a new puppy’s intent, is not mutual.

Michael is a 5-year-old child, diagnosed within the wide autism syndrome label, who doesn’t want to be touched, much less touch the animal in front of him.

Mercury is a 10-week-old black Labrador who wants nothing more than to be touched and played with.

If the goal is to make Mercury responsive to Michael’s needs, you first have to get them to acknowledge each other.

And make no mistake, that’s the goal. Because if therapists and dog trainers can figure out a way to get Mercury to sense what Michael is doing or about to do, and then disrupt it or comfort him through it, there is fresh reason to think autistic children can be armed with a new and highly effective — did we mention wet-nosed? — weapon against a world that doesn’t understand them.

via A boy with autism and his dog find a world in common – TwinCities.com.

Animal Therapy for Children with Autism

Animal therapy for children with autism is not limited to service dogs – cats like children with autism too. Animal therapy provides a lot of therapies rolled into one: tactile stimulation as the child strokes the animal, social skills as the child communicates with the animal, and responsibility as the child learns to care for the animal.

It is important to research what breeds work best with children – service animals may be expensive, but a good friendly pet from the animal shelter may work just as well. Interestingly enough, cats, which often seem independent, seem to deal well with autistic children. In addition, cats are clean and do not need to be walked!

via Autism | Animal Therapy for Children with Autism | Healing Thresholds | Connecting Community and Science to Heal Autism.