Parents learn the dangers of leaving their children alone because it only takes a split second for them to be gone, and then never found or found like this girl was found. It saddens us as we hear and read about these stories. I feel for the parents that have lost their children to a death like this and of course the agony they go through when their autistic child decides to bolt into traffic, down the street, or into the woods.
I read an article recently regarding the idea of assistance dogs to help with these individuals that have the tendency to bolt. I thought I would share. What do you think about this idea. Check out the article and video.
Assistance Dogs Make a Difference in the World of Autism
- Work as a Team. Typically, autism dogs are taught to work as part of a team. Since the child may not be able to completely assume the role of handler, the autism dog is usually handled with one leash being held by the child (usually attached to the dog's waist with a harness) and one that the parent will hold (usually attached to the collar). The assistance dog will have to learn to differentiate between the two leashes, discriminating between the cues of the handler and the desires of the child.
- Behavior Modification. Assistance dogs can be very effective working with children who have a tendency to wander away or bolt in open settings. They can also alert the parent when the child is beginning to approach an area that is may endanger the child's life. These services allow the child to have a limited amount of freedom and can help parents with general supervision.
- Emotional Calming. Assistance dogs can provide emotional calming in those children who are prone to outbursts and tantrums. In return, the child's constant presence can have the same effect on the dog.
- Social Interaction. Children with autism have a difficult time socializing normally, but the presence of a dog usually makes them more approachable to their peers. Sometimes known as "social capital" this can be one of the most important roles an assistance dog can play.
- Seizure Detection. Assistance dogs can be trained to predict the onset of a seizure and alert the parent or guardian. Naturally, this ability can help keep children safe in the event of one of these attacks.