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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

Does anybody have a service dog for their ASD child? I'm not talking about therapy/companion dogs, I mean an actual service dog, the kind that can go anywhere the child goes including the cabin of airliners. I want to get one for Zach, but I'm not sure whether to get a puppy and train it myself or go through one of those organizations that trains the dog for you. I'm leaning toward training a puppy myself because the wait times from all the service dog organizations I've seen are 6+ months and they require $5000+ first. Plus, most of those center that train dogs only use labs and retreivers, which are two breeds of dog I'm not fond of. I do have experience training dogs professionally, so that won't be a problem. I'm not sure though, so I was hoping for some advice from people who've been through the service dog process.

by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 4:36 PM
Replies (21-29):
Basherte
by Silver Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Not sure how to ask this, so I'll be blunt. Please forgive the bluntness. I mean no disrespect at all.

What exactly does the service dog do for you? I know about service animals for blind, deaf, and people who have seizures. I know nothing of a service animal for someone with asd. How does a service animal and a companion differ? Which would be best? Does any of that depend on the severity of the autism?

Quoting kajira:

I've had a service dog for myself since I was 18.

I train my own. I can give you some resources if you'd like, I don't use a service dog for my children, but i'm an autistic adult.


busymommy98
by on Feb. 2, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Hey Violetsmomtown, how do you contact these dog trainers in Canada? Do you have to live there to have access to their training services? Please send me the info so I can look into it for my boy. He was recently diagnosed with Aspergers/NOS plus mood disorder. We have looked into service dogs around here but we are looking at anywhere from $13,000 to $30,000. Ouch. Quite an expense when we live on a tight budget. I hear lots of people say trained dogs help tremendously with meltdowns. At this point, we are willing to cut back on something so our son can have a buddy who can go anywhere with him. If we have a regular untrained dog, we don't have the ability to take the dog someplace like Wal-Mart where it is hardest for him to keep it together.(noises and crowds are nerve-racking to him) I would appreciate your response. Thank you so much!!

kajira
by Emma on Feb. 2, 2013 at 12:33 PM

I posted a ton of task training specifically related to autism if you check back on the last couple pages.

However, for me specifically, I'm klutzy, so having a dog to stabilize me if I lose my balance is helpful. I have processing issues, so I have my dog redirect my attention to what's going on around me if needed, I also use them to keep from acting neurotic in public, instead of hand flapping, I keep my hands on my dog and use them as a sensory/stim object to appear slightly less weird to other people.

I also have auditory issues and don't always here people talking to me - so the dog's can be trained to alert you if people are trying to get your attention. I don't like people invading my space, let alone touching me, so the dog i'm comfortable invading my space, so it works out better to have the dog touch me then people I don't know or don't have touch priviliages with me.

Back to the processing delays - I've had my dog keep me from stepping in front of cars in parking lots, and if my husbands not with me to stop me I *have* walked into people who I didn't see, so my dog can direct me around the people so I don't slam into them... which I do especially if it's crowded.

A companion animal is someone who provides emotional support - my cats are companion animals, they emotionally make me feel better, but they don't do what a dog does for me.

My dog's actually make me more functional in an active way that with out them it's embarassing for me because I can't figure out what's going on around me... have the time the sights, sounds and colors are so overwhelming because i don't process as fast as a normal person. So, tactile sensation can help some of the flappy or stimmy behaviors I naturally do as I process information. No one blinks twice if you reach down to scratch your dog or rub their neck in a repetitive fashion.... but people do look weird if you as a grown person stand there flapping and squeeking.


I'll put it this way, I rarely go alone in public simply because of processing and sensory issues, it's not that I can't, it's just that it makes me not get as much done as I could if my dog was with me.... she eases many of the things my brain struggles with by providing her eyes, ears and body as a tool for me to function better with less problems.

it's the little things that most people take for granted that she helps with.

Quoting Basherte:

Not sure how to ask this, so I'll be blunt. Please forgive the bluntness. I mean no disrespect at all.

What exactly does the service dog do for you? I know about service animals for blind, deaf, and people who have seizures. I know nothing of a service animal for someone with asd. How does a service animal and a companion differ? Which would be best? Does any of that depend on the severity of the autism?

Quoting kajira:

I've had a service dog for myself since I was 18.

I train my own. I can give you some resources if you'd like, I don't use a service dog for my children, but i'm an autistic adult.



Living with Autism - The quirky kitty.

Our autistic Family - A Dad's point of view on living with Autism

Basherte
by Silver Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Thank you for that. I'm glad you have her. I will look back a few pages and find the post you are referring to. 

At this point I'm not sure my son would need a dog for those things. I will keep it in mind though just in case he does.  I am trying to get a companion animal for my son right now. We aren't allowed pets in my apartment building, but if I get a paper filled out by his doctor, I am permitted to have one.

Thank you for sharing your story with me. I appreciate it. Made me smile, and taught me a few things I hadn't thought of before.

Quoting kajira:

I posted a ton of task training specifically related to autism if you check back on the last couple pages.

However, for me specifically, I'm klutzy, so having a dog to stabilize me if I lose my balance is helpful. I have processing issues, so I have my dog redirect my attention to what's going on around me if needed, I also use them to keep from acting neurotic in public, instead of hand flapping, I keep my hands on my dog and use them as a sensory/stim object to appear slightly less weird to other people.

I also have auditory issues and don't always here people talking to me - so the dog's can be trained to alert you if people are trying to get your attention. I don't like people invading my space, let alone touching me, so the dog i'm comfortable invading my space, so it works out better to have the dog touch me then people I don't know or don't have touch priviliages with me.

Back to the processing delays - I've had my dog keep me from stepping in front of cars in parking lots, and if my husbands not with me to stop me I *have* walked into people who I didn't see, so my dog can direct me around the people so I don't slam into them... which I do especially if it's crowded.

A companion animal is someone who provides emotional support - my cats are companion animals, they emotionally make me feel better, but they don't do what a dog does for me.

My dog's actually make me more functional in an active way that with out them it's embarassing for me because I can't figure out what's going on around me... have the time the sights, sounds and colors are so overwhelming because i don't process as fast as a normal person. So, tactile sensation can help some of the flappy or stimmy behaviors I naturally do as I process information. No one blinks twice if you reach down to scratch your dog or rub their neck in a repetitive fashion.... but people do look weird if you as a grown person stand there flapping and squeeking.


I'll put it this way, I rarely go alone in public simply because of processing and sensory issues, it's not that I can't, it's just that it makes me not get as much done as I could if my dog was with me.... she eases many of the things my brain struggles with by providing her eyes, ears and body as a tool for me to function better with less problems.

it's the little things that most people take for granted that she helps with.

Quoting Basherte:

Not sure how to ask this, so I'll be blunt. Please forgive the bluntness. I mean no disrespect at all.

What exactly does the service dog do for you? I know about service animals for blind, deaf, and people who have seizures. I know nothing of a service animal for someone with asd. How does a service animal and a companion differ? Which would be best? Does any of that depend on the severity of the autism?

Quoting kajira:

I've had a service dog for myself since I was 18.

I train my own. I can give you some resources if you'd like, I don't use a service dog for my children, but i'm an autistic adult.





wedding countdown

aviatioNation
by on Feb. 3, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Thank you for all the info, it's very helpful. How did you train your dog for your specific tasks?

Quoting kajira:

My service dogs were trained to poke me when/if people were talking to me and I wasn't listening, they are used to help reduce sensory/stimming that would cause problems in public. (i.e. instead of scratching at my face or tugging my hair or something like that, I could touch my dog in a way that looked like repetitive affection.)

My dog's trained to respond to alert to sounds or help me navigate around objects that I don't "see" in front of me while i'm processing all the other stuff around me.

(i.e. my last rottweiler kept me from walking in front of cars more than once.)

stuff like that, that's related to safety and sensory needs/issues


aviatioNation
by on Feb. 3, 2013 at 12:31 PM

I'm leaning toward getting a Fila Brasileiro because they're naturally aloof with strangers. Like Kajira said, any dog can make a good service dog, you just have to find the right match for your family.

Quoting JTMOM422:

I have wanted to get ds a service dog too but the cost was out of this world. We have a place in our state that trains dogs for ASD children and adults but the cost is $12000 a dog. I just can't afford that. I would love to get one but unless I win the lottery it's not going to happen. What other types of dogs do you recommend? I saw pretty much labs and retrievers online too.


Wljsransom1964
by on Feb. 3, 2013 at 12:42 PM

The reason they use lab because they are great dogs. I would go to the local shelter and take you aspergers child with you. They have lots of puppies. Maybe you can find a mix dog. A puppy that is already house broken is best. Talk to the shelter staff. They might have one like 3 or 4 months old. We had a dog that we got from a shelter. He was great with our son. He was golden and border collie mix. Best dog ever. He has since passed away. We will be looking in the next yr for anorther. Right now he has a cat that sleeps with him and keeps him company.

kajira
by Emma on Feb. 3, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Honestly, a dog that's heeling isn't likely to want to walk in front of a car either, so when they sit down or nudge you out of the way naturally,you reward the behaviors.

I suggest getting a clicker and keeping treats handy,anytime they do a desired behavior at a certain time naturally, reward it as a puppy, by the time they are a year or so old, they'll have those trained into them as part of their personality and interactions with their person.

My female rottweiler would even poke me when I was driving if I started to zone out from sensory overload. :P

Some things come naturally to a dog, other things have to be trained.

i.e. poking you when you look sad, or angry or overwhelmed. a dog who cares how you feel will pick up on it naturally and pester you - you want to reinforce that natural behaviors. that's why it's in my opinion that a dog that's bonded to the person matters so much, they have to be intune and WANT to care what the person's feeling. It makes them do their job better.

As to other task training, teaching a dog to carry a pouch with medicine or ID or whatever else is more of exposure and rewarding them for leaving it alone.

A clicker is useful because if you want a dog to turn a light off, o rbring you an object, that's a more physical task than a emotional task. 

You'd need to seperate the tasks into categories and figure out which ones may come naturally to the dog with personal interaction and direct/reward the behaviors you want in certain situations, and training basic things like sit, stay, come, bring it to me, shut the door, open the door, etc.

My male rottweiler was trained to open doors and turn lights on and off. :P

It kind of just depends on what you want the dog to do.

I have a hard time explaining it because for me, it's something I just "do" with my dog,not something i've really thought about how to describe with words.

There's a lot of youtube videos on different task trainings and ways to do it - so i'd suggest watching those to get ideas.


Quoting aviatioNation:

Thank you for all the info, it's very helpful. How did you train your dog for your specific tasks?

Quoting kajira:

My service dogs were trained to poke me when/if people were talking to me and I wasn't listening, they are used to help reduce sensory/stimming that would cause problems in public. (i.e. instead of scratching at my face or tugging my hair or something like that, I could touch my dog in a way that looked like repetitive affection.)

My dog's trained to respond to alert to sounds or help me navigate around objects that I don't "see" in front of me while i'm processing all the other stuff around me.

(i.e. my last rottweiler kept me from walking in front of cars more than once.)

stuff like that, that's related to safety and sensory needs/issues



Living with Autism - The quirky kitty.

Our autistic Family - A Dad's point of view on living with Autism

ScorpiokissesXO
by on Feb. 6, 2013 at 5:14 PM
My ds had a service dog, trained by the sheriff department and humane society in Ohio. I know they do not do this anymore, but she was a border collie. We had her for almost 9 years. She was amazing! He has severe night terrors answer she would block my house doors if he was near them, lie across his body to calm him, even come get me if he was too severe and hitting walls. We took her everywhere! Border collies are very easy to train and amazing with children. Good luck on your search and also check with veteran administrations. They train service dogs forgets and I've heard they will help train a dog for a child for a small fee as well. :)
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