Service Dogs for Autism: How Can They Help?
Service dogs can be trained to help individuals with physical or psychological disabilities. As the service dog holds the job to specifically assist their handlers, a trained autism service dog can provide individuals with autism invaluable assistance in a number of ways.
From helping their handler conquer social barriers to distracting them in times of distress, an autism service dog can take on many tasks.
How to get an Autism Service Dog
A dog can become an autism service dog if it meets the requirements as set forth by the ADA. These requirements state that the dog must perform one or more tasks that help the individual in a manner that pertains to their disability. The service dog needs to be trained and focused on the job, oftentimes be alert 24/7 and never leave their handler’s side.
What Situations Can an Autism Service Dog Help With
Individuals with autism can struggle in relating to others as they may not understand typical human interaction or how to respond in socially-acceptable ways. This can lead to social isolation and feelings of depression. Having an autism service dog to provide companionship can help ease this suffering, whether just at home or in public as well.
Social Interaction Support
For people with autism that wish to interact with others but have a hard time doing so, an autism service dog is a perfect way to break the ice. While others might avoid individuals with autism that are actively displaying non-typical behavior, people may gravitate towards individuals that are walking a dog. This helps break those uncomfortable social barriers and provides great socialization for the individual with autism.
Safety for Children with Autism
Children with autism can be unpredictable and may choose an inopportune moment to take off. And since they cannot evaluate dangerous situations they might wander into busy traffic or get drawn to an open body of water. The autism service dog can help supervise the child and may prompt it to stay put, or at least momentarily slow their escape, allowing parents time to intervene.
It should be noted that even when trained, animals are still animals and can exhibit unpredictable or erratic behavior. An adult should maintain control of the service dog at all times.
Soothing a Meltdown
An individual with autism, especially children, may experience loss of behavioral control. During such a meltdown it is crucial that they can regain control before they might harm themselves or someone else. An autism service dog can be trained to recognize when such a meltdown is happening and help soothe their handler.
Alerting and Grounding
The needs of every individual with autism are unique, and autism service dogs can be trained to perform a variety of tasks that may prove helpful. Such specific tasks may be:
- Nudging a person to disrupt and stop repetitive/self-injuries behavior
- Help identify sounds and alarms
- Alerting the individual or their parents of dangers
Autism Service Dogs Can Help Overcome Hardship
Individuals with autism deserve to live full, fulfilling, and rewarding lives despite the challenges brought about by their disability. Autism can be difficult to handle, and parents of autistic children might want to decide if a helping paw could benefit their whole family. Investing in an autism service dog is a great way to help an individual with autism to live a life less complicated.