Support Dogs is a small charity that provides, trains and supports assistance dogs to help families of children living with autism.
Children with autism experience disadvantages socially, emotionally and physically. They can be affected in a number of ways, and the developmental disability can impact the whole family – often parents act as carers. Autism assistance dogs have been shown to decrease the stress and social isolation that this can create.
Following 18 months of training, assistance dogs are placed in a family environment. They provide safety and companionship, reduce stress and anxiety in social environments, and help to bring independence and a more socially inclusive life to both the child with autism and their family.
The charity helps children like seven-year-old Sam, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of five. Bright lights, music, crowds and shops all overloaded Sam’s brain and he found it difficult to cope. Sam has sensory difficulties which means he struggles with noise and crowds, has severe anxiety and he also experiences depression.
Fast forward a year, and Sam’s mum, Emma, has seen an incredible difference to his life – including his anxiety, self-esteem and confidence. Why? Because Sam’s family have been supported by an autism assistance dog called Willow.
Straight away Willow and Sam made a really close bond. Sam struggles with his emotions but is now less anxious because Willow has such a calming effect, acting as his safety net and keeping him calm when they go outside the house.
Before Willow, Sam’s parents could barely get him to school – they couldn’t hold his hand because he hated to be touched and he would run off into the road. Keeping him safe became more and more of an issue and his parents ended up taking him to school in a disability buggy.
“Sam wants to go out now!” says his mum, Emma.
Global’s Make Some Noise is proud to support the charity’s ‘Autism Assistance Dogs – After care support’ project which provides on-going after care for families with autism assistance dogs.
As a child grows, their needs change, but ongoing training is provided to ensure that the charity’s dogs are meeting the changing needs of the child and their family. Development training ensures that dogs are able to learn additional skills to provide the most appropriate support for the entirety of the dog’s 8 year working life.
With your help, we can support this charity and many more across the UK.