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School (German)
Autism service dogs (German)


Autism Service Dogs

Link to the folder «Autism service dogs» 

Link to the article in the magazine «tiergestützte» (German)

Link to the «Article in the Bulletin October 2012» (German)

Link to our «Article in the Bulletin May 2012» (German)

Children suffering from autism spectrum disorders often find it difficult to cope with everyday life. Autism service dogs provide them with support and the necessary protection. Since 2012, autism service dogs have been trained in our school, for the first time in Switzerland. 

  

Because of their different emotions it is not immediately evident that children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have difficulty to fulfil the expectations placed upon them. When they attract attention, it is often due to odd behaviour, stereotype movements, stubbornness or simply a lack of interest in the people around them. Autism is a pervasive, incurable developmental disorder.

 

Difficulty in approaching others

Children with ASD have their own perception of things, their own way of thinking and often develop their own rules. They sometimes find it difficult to communicate clearly with other people, even with their own parents. They tend to avoid contact and have difficulty in responding appropriately to a situation. Over and under-sensitivities to lights, smells, noises or bodily contacts are often accompanying symptoms.  Sometimes, children with autism display repetitive behaviour or possess pronounced and special interests, which they are happy to pursue in depth.

 

Dogs provide protection and security

An autism service dog has similar duties to a guide dog for the blind. The dog stops at zebra crossings and helps to keep the child away from dangers. He guides and accompanies the child connected, yet follows the commands given by an adult person of trust. Even where access is normally prevented to a dog, a doctor's practice for example, a shopping centre, hairdressers or school, the children can rely on their four-legged friend. Children who have difficulty in communicating, find in their dog a patient listener. With an autism service dog at his or her side the child will repeatedly find opportunities for contact without being the centre of attention. An autism service dog helps the family to lead a more or less normal life and prepare the child for life within our midst.

 

The Canadian training programme as a primary example

Sixteen years ago in Canada a guide dog for the blind instructor developed a training programme together with the parents of autistic children. In the meantime, this concept has been copied and improved upon by other schools. At the beginning of 2012 the Foundation Swiss School for Guide Dogs for the Blind in Allschwil set itself the task of training autism service dogs for children. For the first time in Switzerland, in November 2012, three dogs could be handed over to families.

 

Integrating the assistance dog into the family

The dogs we train are given to the families when they are about two years old. The new owners are prepared and trained by our instructors. On completion, the animals are introduced to the child and integration into the family takes place under professional supervision. Any parents who would like to know more about an autism service dog can attend one of the monthly visiting days in Allschwil and form their own opinion about these special canines.

 

Are you interested in a autism service dog from our school? Please do not hesitate to contact us. Peter Kaufmann, autism service dog instructor, tel. +41 61 487 95 95, would be happy to invite you to a personal counseling interview at our school.

 

Information for interested families: An Autism Service Dog for you?

(German)