Craig, dad of Jay who has been matched with Chester, a black Labrador retriever gives his feedback on our manual for families Side By Side: Your Child and an Autism Service Dog.
“We received the ADS Parent Manual shortly before our new service dog, Chester, came to live with us. I myself was feeling, even at that time late in the placement process, some trepidation because I had not had a dog in a very long time, about 20 years. I have seen a lot of people with their service dogs, and I have handled one in a few test conditions? But how would I react to the reality of all day, every day and did I really know enough to take the confident start as an owner/handler that a dog needs to feel comfortable?
The Parent Manual absolutely helped my concerns. It gave me a lot of knowledge and a lot of comfort. It helped me feel more confident, knowing the dog’s training inventory and reminding me of care responsibilities and what the dog can do for us and for my son Jay. It really helped me get off to a good start in the relationship and I continue to use it, to review things and just as a refresher and as a reminder of things to try. ADS did a great job with it and the design is beautiful too”.
Lucas & Service Dog Banjo:
“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
Jaime & Bella
“On January 9th, 2010, we welcomed “Bella”, an 18 month black Labrador into our family. Bella is an Autism Service Dog that works with our daughter who is on the autism spectrum. Jaime now is a vibrant 13 year old who is nonverbal, yet very communicative. She operates on a visual schedule that allows her to tell us her needs, wants, etc. Bella is a big part of that schedule. Our lives have changed since Bella has been with us as we are now able to go to many places that in the past were impossible to enter. Bella grounds Jaime by giving her a sense of security. Bella has given us, Jaime’s parents, a safety net feeling where we know she won’t bolt into traffic or run away. We all feel a sense of relief because of our autism service dog.None of this would have been thought possible until we met Wade Beatite and his professional team from Autism Dog Services. From the start our family has been treated “like family”and our concerns were much a part of ADS concerns in placing the perfect dog match to our situation. Mr. Beatte, Director, and his staff have continued to support our family and encouraged us on social outings with ADS including Autism Speaks walks and social BBQ’s, graduation ceremonies , dog training, etc. It is an exciting time for us and continues to be as we get to know other families in similar situations”
-Deb, Jaime’s mom
Rodney & Findley:
“On November 13th 2010 we brought home a beautiful black lab named Findley and the dynamics of our household changed almost instantly. Everyone is the household seemed happier.
Rodney and Findley bond a little more each day, it really is amazing to watch! Rodney used to wake up 4-5 times a night having screaming fits. Since Findley has been sleeping on his bed they are nearly gone and he rarely wakes up at all through the night.
Going out in public was a huge difficulty for us and we had eventually just stopped bringing Rodney with us. Now with him holding onto Findley it has been a lot easier. Rodney used to stop every 2 seconds to look at something and if we tried to pull him away it would be a huge meltdown. This would turn a 20min shopping trip into hours. Now if Rodney takes too long we just give the “forward” command to Findley and he will distract Rodney and pull him along with no meltdown! Rodney also no longer seeks out deep pressure by leaning against strangers or trying to hold onto them. He now just holds onto his dog and if we stop to look at something he will get down and give him a big hug until its time to move on again.
Rodney’s overall behaviour has also changed and he seems to be a lot calmer then he used to be. He is however very excited to take Findley to school in the Fall 2011″ -Christine, Rodney’s mom
Eric & Maris
“There are so many great charities out there to support but the really wonderful thing about ADS is that every single penny of every donation goes directly to providing the training and support of the amazing animals that can offer so much assistance and make such a difference in the life of a child with autism and in the lives of all the family members of those kids. It is hard to comprehend how much of a difference these amazing animals can make…but I’ve seen it myself and it’s just remarkable. Children who could never sleep on their own are now sleeping without having to have a parent in bed with them, because the dog calms them down. Kids can take the dogs into stressful environments such as schools, malls, restaurants and this keeps them secure and calm. Parents can breathe a sigh of relief when going on an outing and knowing their child cannot run into the middle of the road or take off in a public place because they are tethered to the dog and that keeps them safe. It offers independence and security as well as a loving companion. These are all things we wish for our little Eric now that he has Maris. Of course the cost of training these animals is so high and all of ADS is paid for by fundraising and charitable donations. So I just wanted to thank all of you who came last night and supported this very tiny, yet very significant charity!It means so much to our entire family to have such supportive friends!
Thanks from all of us…especially Eric!!!” -Cathy Okopny, Eric’s mom.
Alex & Ruby:
“Since my son Alex received Ruby, his service dog 4 months ago our lives have changed. This 15 month old yellow lab has helped my son sleep through the night without me beside him. I finally get to sleep and Alex has the security of knowing Ruby is right by his side. It warms my heart to see Alex actually interacting with Ruby, playing hide and seek, and running in the park with her. Wade has been right there through all of this. I’m able to call or email him with questions or concerns and he gets right back to me. Thanks to Wade and Autism Dog Services my life and my sons’ is so much better!” -Leslie Simmons-Wong, Alex’s mom.
Christina & Spencer:
“Wade and Autism Dog Services have been nothing but a god send to my daughter and our family. My 6 year old daughter has autism and our dog Spencer has made such a amazing impact in her life. He has provided her with the grounding and security that many kids with autism lack.
Wade has become an important part of our family and has given us a new direction in our lives. He has been a incredible dog trainer, friend and confidant. There has never been a problem too big or small that Wade will not help with when it comes to the training of Spencer. He invests the time and energy required in order to have a well balanced service dog. I had been searching for quite a long period of time for a program or trainer that would aid us in providing a autism service dog for Christina. I found a lot of trainers were making unrealistic promises and offering to train a dog for us without even assessing our situation or if a dog would even work into our hectic lives. When I spoke to Wade there was no promises, he told me the sacrifices that would have to be made and the amount of time we as a family would have to invest. Right away after our first conversation I knew this was the trainer for us. I also respected the fact that he wanted to come out to the house a few times and spend some time with our family and Christina to make sure that this was something that would work for us. Right then and there I knew this was going to work and we never looked back.” -Monique Lee Montada, Christina’s mom.
Ethan & Max:
“When my husband and I first starting talking about a service dog for our son, we did have an idea that some fundraising would be involved; we were however more than a little intimidated by the value of the dog and almost didn’t go through with pursuing it. We didn’t want to be depending on our family and friends over and over again to support our events and donate to our cause. However, we surprised ourselves and were able to fundraise $18, 000 for the organization in a little over six months. I used Ethan’s school as a starting point and was able to advertise our events through notices that went home with the students. Very early on we were overwhelmed by the support and I have never felt more connected with our community than I do now. Not only were we able to raise funds for ADS but we really increased our neighbourhood’s awareness about our son; and as a result not only have his “quirks” become accepted by a much larger part of the community, but more people look out for him. The “ADS community” was also extremely supportive and encouraging. One parent, in particular, kept in touch always offering assistance. If you think your son or daughter would benefit from a service dog, the fundraising really is doable and in the end well worth the effort.”
-Ingrid Macey, Ethan’s mom.
Showing a sense of independence
Everywhere we go
Receiving a friend and
Visiting families until a match is found
It is a beautiful sight seeing the bond we make
Children and adults showing responsibility taking care of us
Everybody appreciates our hard work to help people
Doing things that we cannot
Opening a door to a new start
Giving time to train and care for us
Showing the start of an awesome friendship
-Written by Emily Davis, 12 years old