Companion Dogs, Making a Difference

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For a number of children with autism having a companion dog is the difference between life and death. Methodically trained guide dogs help create an environment where autistic children are comfortable enough to live a more ordinary lifestyle. Autism spectrum disorder is a major public health problem that is the most common neurological disorder affecting 1 out of every 110 births in the US (Autism Society, 2009). ASDs can range in severity from Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism where the child can function relatively well in society, to autistic disorder or classical ASD, which severely inhibits the child’s ability to socialize or communicate (NINDS). Autism manifests itself most strikingly as impairments in formation of …show more content…
Service dogs also help their children sleep at night by helping reduce the chance of sleepwalking and nightmares. With the dog by the child’s side, the remainder of the family has an opportunity to get adequate sleep.
Having a companion dog, usually either a Golden retriever or Labrador retriever, due to their size and gentle nature, is vastly different from simply having a pet. Service dogs go through extensive training, usually six to eighteen months, before being placed with a child and continue training after being placed in the home. The key is to evaluate the situation as carefully as possible, keeping expectations realistic and conditions flexible. A companion animal is the most rewarding when the whole family is willing to adapt and take on the responsibilities; thus increasing the quality of life substantially.
Companion dogs help develop the child’s daily tasks, improving psychological aspects too. These pups help the child learn how to bond by creating a more playful mood and teaching the child how to focus. They help allow these children to come out of their shells and be themselves. They help the child get motivated in the morning to begin their day and stay on task. The dogs are allowed to accompany the child to school which is one of the most overwhelming places with the constant noises, movement and other unexpected forms of overstimulation the dogs are there to protect the child. A sense of responsibility is created by empowering the
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