Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Autism and Service Dogs

First, do you really need an autism service dog?
Special trained dogs can help people with disability to become more independent, including people with autism. For adults and teens, an service dog is much more practical, because they are capable of handling the dog by themselves. At the same time, it doesn't mean that autistic children cannot have service dogs, on the contrary, they could benefit kids with autism in a lot of ways. For example, if the child doesn't come or respond when called, the dog can help you find him/her quickly, especially in school or other public places. Also, the dog could help the child become more social with their peers. These are the bright side of an autism service dog, but, you have to look at the dark side also to make an final decision. The dark side is that the child cannot take care of the dog, the parent have to look after the dog, too. And the fee of an autism service dog is very high. Besids, a dog has about the same intelligence as a three year old, would you trust a three year old with the care of your child? Ok, all things considered, let's suppose that you still want a dog, then you must pay attention to the following questions.
Second, what is the right Service Dog breed for autistic people?
These dog breeds are recommended for people on the autism spectrum, Newfoundland, bloodhound, border collie, Yellow Labs, golden retriever or other highly intelligent breed. Many large dogs are great with kid, gentle and peaceful. Try to avoid small dogs. I cannot say which breed is the best for children with autism, after all every autistic person is different. You may need to hire an animal behavioral consultant to pick up a dog with you and your child. You can choose several most gentle dogs and bring them outside to meet your child to see which one can socialize with her/him best.
Third, how to pick up an autism service dog?
Proper training is the key in an autism service dog. Official service dogs are strictly trained on how to behave with people. Also, the match of the personality of the dog and the child is very important.
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