BOLTING: One common thing that many Autism Service Dogs do is offer peace of mind for children and their families by keeping a child tethered in public places. Often the child is tethered to the dog and the parent/handler holds the dog’s leash. This usually fosters a new found sense of independence and empowerment for the child. Just having two hands free to conduct mundane activities like paying for groceries, or holding a purse is a new found luxury for the caregivers/parents.
WANDERING: Some Autism Service Dogs are trained to hold or retrieve a child who wanders or runs away.
PICA: Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorders eat things that they should not, such as: dirt, clay, chalk, feces, sand, crayons, pencils, etc. Autism Service Dogs can be trained to halt this undesirable behavior.
SELF HARMING: Many individuals on the Autism Spectrum do various self injurious behaviors such as: scratching, biting, head banging, etc. A service dog can be trained to halt or divert this behavior.
FIRE SAFETY: When a smoke detector activates, a dog may be trained to lead the child to the front door or fire exit.
ANXIETY/MELTDOWNS/AGITATION/SENSORY OVERLOAD/NIGHTMARES: Most people on the Autism Spectrum Disorder experience various anxiety manifestations such as outbursts, tantrums, or screaming. An Autism Service Dog can be trained to crawl into the lap of the child or to nudge and redirect or even to give deep pressure or affection to halt the behavior. This often assists the child in all areas of their lives including academics and socialization.
SNEAKING/ESCAPING: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders are commonly very adept at escaping their homes or sneaking away from their safe environments. Their service dog may be trained to bark or alert a caregiver or parent. This can provide a peace of mind and quality of sleep for the entire family that was not previously possible.
STIMMING: Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders engage in various self-stimulating behaviors including: hand flapping, spinning, rocking, making repetitive vocal sounds, or unusual finger movements. An Autism Service Dog may be trained to halt or divert these behaviors as well.
GLUTEN SNIFFING: Autism Service Dogs can even be trained to sniff out gluten for individuals with gluten sensitivities.
LOVE/WARMTH/SECURITY: Often the need for love, warmth and security are paramount for a child on the Autism Spectrum. While all children needs these things, the “neediness” of these individuals is often so intense that it becomes nearly impossible for parents to satisfy all of the child’s’ needs in these areas. Many children who formerly required their parents’ constant attention or who viewed a parent as a “security item or transitional object” no longer are as dependent with the aid of a service dog. The service dog may provide the emotional and physical support needed for more independent sleep, bathing, dressing, waiting in lines, taking of transportation (school buses, subways, buses, vans, airplanes, shuttles, cars, boats, ferries) and a multitude of other activities that caused stress or required a person or object to offer support in the past.
This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of every skill an Autism Service Dog can or will be trained to perform. Most organizations, task train an Autism Service Dog specifically for the child in need.
Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions addresses the needs of each of their placement families and individuals and trains their service dogs accordingly.
Each service dog is trained and tailored to the unique and specific challenges a child and family with Autism faces. There may be just a few specific tasks needed or there may be several. An assessment is done before the dog is task trained and the best dog is matched with a child in need in order to facilitate the best possible team and outcome for the child and for the dog.