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

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



Success Stories: Rescue Dog Helps Autistic Boy Communicate

The heartwarming story of a boy and his dog is an American tale told time and time again, but never quite like this. Seven months ago, Friends of DeKalb Animal Rescue in Georgia found an emaciated, abused puppy, naming her Xena the Warrior puppy after her miraculous recovery. Little did they know, Xena would be a bit of a miracle herself.  Xena’s pictures were so astonishing that she quickly became a celebrity, bringing in tens of thousands of dollars for the rescue group. At a fundraiser for the animal rescue, Xena picked a pal—running straight to a little boy named Johnny. Johnny is an autistic boy who is verbal, but has always been very withdrawn and uncomfortable with others. Their grand introduction was puppy-love-at-first-sight. Johnny’s family adopted Xena once she was healthy enough to bring home. According to Johnny’s parents, Xena brought about a change in Johnny almost instantly—encouraging him to talk often and excitedly. Johnny asked his mom to make a video of him and Xena for Autism Awareness month, which he learned is also Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month. In the video, Johnny is wonderfully spoken, sending a message about understanding saying, “Spread the word to be nice to animals and nice to kids like me.”

Animal assisted therapy is a popular approach to coping with autism, but rarely is it associated with communication skills and habits like Johnny’s transformation. Perhaps Johnny and Xena’s instant connection had something to do with Xena’s marginalization. Some animal assisted therapy programs are also animal rescue and rehabilitation centers, like Merlin’s Kids. In these programs, like with Johnny’s story, the support is mutual and the affects are astonishing. To see Johnny’s video, visit: Do Share your opinion on animal assisted therapy or stories of your children with animals!

Animal Therapy for Autism

Animals have been used for years as a form of therapy and service for individuals with disabilities. Whether as household pets, structured animal programs, or supervised interactions, the benefits of a furry friend are often undeniable. There are countless amounts of volunteers that share their pets with others, service dogs to aid in vision or hearing impairments, as well as families that aren’t complete without their beloved pet. Humans have a strong, unexplained bond with their pets, and the rewards are evident in most people, with or without disabilities. In autistic children, the benefits of pet therapy are being explored more and more. How can an animal assist in the development of a child with ASD? Continue reading

Animal-assisted Therapy Yields Amazing Results for Autistic Children

Animal-assisted therapy has proven to be very successful in providing physical and emotional benefits to children with autism.

Animal-assisted therapy can vary from something as simple as bringing a pet into the home to something as structured as programs that offer horseback riding or swimming with dolphins. Interacting with animals can help children with autism to develop physically and improve their strength, coordination, and physical abilities.  Most importantly the relationship formed with animals can help autistic children have a better sense of well-being, more self-confidence and can offer transferable skills of empathy and relating to others. Continue reading