“We were able to spend lots of one on one time with Wade and Banjo (the dog he wanted to introduce us to). As you would expect it was impossible not to like Banjo. He was well behaved, listened to commands and even though he was in ‘work mode’ his lovable personality came shining through.
We have had Banjo in our lives for about 3 1/2 months now and I have seen positive changes in Lucas. For example, going to the store used to be a real struggle, Lucas would protest, say he hated shopping and be difficult once we got there. I am a single parent and don’t get much time to shop so it is necessary for me to take Lucas with me when I go shopping for groceries. Since we have had Banjo Lucas now actually asks to go shopping! He is much more manageable when we are there and his overall attitude about shopping has improved 110%! This relieves a huge burden from me trying to sneak in a fast trip to pick up essentials (either with or without Lucas).
Banjo is also a great comfort to Lucas when he is feeling stressed. Just last night we were out visiting family with Banjo. When Lucas started getting tired and was ready to go he went and got Banjo and started leading him around, sitting down occasionally to hold Banjo’s head in his lap and cuddle. This is something that has also never happened before; in the past when Lucas was ready to leave somewhere he would become irritable and aggressive because he couldn’t express his needs or find a way to comfort and calm himself.
Banjo has also brought all of the benefits that having an ordinary pet would bring into anyone’s life. For example, Lucas takes responsibility for feeding and cleaning up after Banjo and also accompanies me on walks so Banjo can get his exercise. His communication skills have improved by giving Banjo commands and I encourage him to look at Banjo when speaking to him rather than looking away (eye contact is lacking in many children on the Autism Spectrum). His confidence is also higher than it has ever been and so far he is doing better in school this year.
In the coming weeks Lucas is going to start taking Banjo to school. This is a process managed by ADS. I am looking forward to having them take the wheel and use their experience to produce a positive outcome for Lucas, Banjo, the teachers and other students. It’s a big job but I’m sure everything will go great with the support of Wade and his team. I am looking forward to my happy, confident boy taking his best friend with him everyday and having the comfort and confidence in knowing that even in stressful situations he is never alone.
Wade and his staff are such great support with any questions I may have whether I need advice on training or general care and keeping of Banjo. Just being part of the ADS community has put me in contact with some wonderful people, many of them parents of children on the Autism Spectrum who really make you feel like you are not on this journey alone.
Since having Banjo I have had many people open up to me about their stories with their own children who are on the Autism Spectrum or challenged in some other way and how their pet helped their child. Many of them say that they wish that they had known about Autism Service Dogs or that these organizations had been established when their child was younger so that they could have benefitted by having a Service Dog. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to give my son the opportunity to have a Service Dog in his life!” -Angela, Lucas’ mom