Service Dogs Provide Assistance to Families Affected by Autism

Photo from 4 Paws 4 Ability's Website (

  Silas, a young boy who struggles with autism, may soon receive the help of a four legged friend to navigate through his daily tasks. The 5 year old boy from Cincinatti, Ohio is playful and expressive, but is unable … Continue reading

Dogs May Be Able to Increase Concentration and Socialization in Children with ASD


Studies have shown that autistic children that take part in therapies involving animals, particularly dogs, tend to be more relaxed and can have a better ability to concentrate. Continue reading

Animal Assisted Therapy offers many benefits including Deep Pressure Therapy.

There are many common tasks these four-legged companions utilize in their day-to-day services.

In earlier blog posts we touched upon animal assisted therapy for autism and have even reported a time or two about service dogs and the individuals they assist.

As an ongoing look at the benefits of animal assisted therapies, we would like to touch upon in a little more detail the some of the techniques and tasks Autism Service Dogs can be taught in order to assist a child with Autism.

There are many common tasks these four-legged companions utilize in their day-to-day services they provide ranging from being trained to track a child’s scent, should the child become lost to tethering & anchoring to prevent a child from suddenly bolting off into traffic or wandering off in a crowd to having the ability to detect gluten, a filled diaper, or even stop repetitive behaviors.

But did you know they are also taught to utilize Deep Pressure Therapy? Studies have shown that deep pressure therapy and massages is a successful way to manage issues that might trigger stress by soothing the individual calming their meltdowns, and other behavioral outburst enabling them to re-focus and transition.

The dog is trained to use their body weight to lean into or provide compression to the child’s or individual’s joints.

It is pretty amazing because over time as the dog and child develop a bond, the dog can start to sense an impending meltdown long before it escalates and becomes a crisis. In most cases, the anxiety and/or meltdown is lessened or completely diminished before it even has a chance to accelerate because the dog senses child’s stress level and offers the relief of deep pressure.

Most parents report once their child begins dog therapy with an autism service dog trained in deep pressure techniques, they see a significant decrease in behavioral issues. Some even find tantrums and outbursts stop all together.

Deep Pressure Therapy is just another truly miraculous way autism services dogs are proving to be man’s best friend and showing the positive benefits of animal assisted therapy for autism and related spectrum issues.

To read more about animal assisted therapy, please visit

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

Therapeutic Aquarium Programs

aquarium therapy

Aquariums can be both soothing and educational for children on the autism spectrum. At the Le Chemin ABA VB Learning Center in Paris, France, the therapeutic aquarium is key in behaviorally oriented programs. At the learning center some lesson plans are designed around the aquarium.

Having an aquarium can help in keeping children calm which can help prevent or reduce melt-downs. Children who are prone to emotional outbursts benefit from the soothing nature of the therapeutic aquarium.

At home, you can guide your child to participate in all activities aquarium related from designing and installing an aquarium to selecting compatible fish. Guide your child to participate in cleaning and maintaining their home aquarium. Participating in these activities may increase your child’s sense of responsibility help them learn to follow directions and aide in the development of their own self-help skills.

Sharing these activities with others may increase positive sibling relationships. Taking turns, working as team, reinforcing a joint activity. Creating and maintaining a therapeutic aquarium is hard work but fun and valuable for your child on the autism spectrum for so many reasons.

For more information on autistic therapy please visit

Interacting With Animals May Have Big Health Benefits For Children With Autism


Animal Assisted Therapy

It is believed that animal assisted therapy has a calming effect for individuals on the autism spectrum.

It is believed that animal assisted therapy has a calming effect for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Reported by the American Pets Products Association, in the U.S. alone 95.6 million people own cats and 83.3 million people in the own dogs. Highly encouraged, research indicates that elderly people who owns animal report being happier. Individuals with autism have shown animals to have favorable effects as well. A wide range of animals, including dogs, horses, alpacas, and dolphins are being used in animal-assisted therapy programs. All of these therapeutic programs are based on interaction enabling children with autism learn to step out of their comfort zone to try something new, de-stress, trust, decrease inappropriate behavior, care for another living creature, and communicate.

There are even additional vocational components with some of the animal-assisted therapy programs available. For example, instructional workshops in fiber arts are being offered by Alpacas for Autism.  Through sell the woven goods made from Alpaca fur, this Missouri based association offers marketing and sales services for the products made on their alpaca ranch which provides an added bonus for adults with autism; a viable source of income and a career.

One grandmother, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained that her granddaughter who has autism cherishes her therapy, “Wiggles goes everywhere with Katy. He accompanies her to school, lies next to her on the floor during her therapies, even goes to the doctor with her. When Katy is stressed out and having a crisis, Wiggles helps to soothe her by putting his head in her lap. Therapy dogs are amazingly sensitive and beautifully trained creatures”

Dolphin Therapy is another animal-assisted therapy, which is shows to be fun for the child and relaxing .  One father who also wishes to remain anonymous, stated that his son with autism loved making contact with the dolphins. His family traveled to Israel from France for the Dolphin Therapy experience. Aware that more scientific research on Dolphin Therapy is needed to explain its effects, he noted that when in the water with the dolphins his son expressed himself more vocally and was calmer for days after the therapy more so than normal.

For more information on Animal Therapy, please visit



Dog Helps Girl with Autism Surf


Gina Gill, a 9-year-old girl with autism from San Diego, has struggled with socializing and self-confidence for most of her life. Fortunately, Gina has been able to boost her self esteem by learning how to surf: her teacher being a 5-year-old golden retriever name Ricochet. Continue reading