Animal Therapy assists in Daily Life for People with Autism

Bryan, who has autism and his therapy dog, Freddie

We know about assistance dogs aiding blind people and therapy dogs assisting people with diabetes, epilepsy and mobility issues

But did you know there are programs across the country that provide assistance dogs to children and young adults with autism and other disabilities?

Freddie, a friendly lovable chocolate lab and Bryan Harker have been together since last year.

Freddie is an assistance dog and partner for Bryan, who has autism.  Along with being a fun and playful pet, Freddie is specifically trained to assist Bryan with managing his autism. “One of my favorite things is all the fun we can have,” Bryan said.

Paula, Bryan’s mom says the relationship is “fantastic.”

Bryan does not sleep through the night so Freddie sleeps with him to watch over him. Freddie sleeps with Bryan and now Bryan is managing to sleep through the night. Bryan rarely got a full nights sleep and would pace and wander. According to trainer, Mary Green, Freddie helps Bryan stay grounded.

“A person with autism might need the dog to provide some grounding techniques,” said Mary Green, K9 Manners and More in Broken Arrow, the folks who do the training. Training can last a year or two.

She witnessed first hand how Freddie positioned himself between Bryan and something that might trigger stress.  It this case it was the came and she.

Freddie will climb on and lie in Bryan’s lap when he becomes agitates or upset

This forces Bryan to re-focus. It’s an amazing thing to see. Another thing that is truly amazing is the non-profit, Aim High, provides the therapy dogs for free.

Families have enough to worry about and Lisa Bycroft of High Aim said “We take care of all expenses,”

Bryan a student at TCC takes Freddie everywhere, even class. Bryans mom said they have a special and incredible relationship.

“Having Freddie has made all the difference,” Paula said.

Bryan hopes to be a video game designer and is currently studying history, philosophy, and physics at TCC this semester.

For more human interest stories about living with autism, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/community/