- Provide increased safety for the child;
- Help control the child by commanding the dog;
- Passively teach the child responsibility;
- Enjoy the right of full public access under the B.C. Guide Animal Act;
- Lower aggression and frustration levels, leading to positive behavioural changes;
- Provide comfort when the child is upset;
- Add a degree of predictability to social settings for both the child and parents; and
- Reduce social stress levels, allowing greater participation in education, as well as social and leisure activities.
Sources of Service Dogs
The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides is a national charity dedicated to providing Dog Guides to Canadians with disabilities at no cost. Its Autism Assistance Dog Guide program, founded in 2009, trains Dog Guides for children aged 3-18 with autism spectrum disorder.
National Service Dogs is a registered charity founded in 1996 after a desperate plea for help came from the mother of a 3-year-old child with autism. This led to the development of the first and only service dog program in Canada focused solely on children with autism.
British Columbia Guide Dogs founded Autism Support Dogs in December, 2008. Autism Support Dogs is a registered not-for-profit organization that breeds, raises, and trains service dogs that assist children, aged 4-10, on the autism spectrum. Autism support dogs are trained by certified instructors and undergo standardized testing developed by Assistance Dogs International before they join the child’s family.
Autism Dog Services Inc. provides highly trained service dogs for children in between 3 – 18 years of age. Their mission is to support families living with autism and related disorders by providing highly trained service dogs that offer safety, companionship and independence. The service dogs are specifically matched with the individual children and families who have been approved for their service.
Picking a Reputable School or Organization
When choosing where to obtain your service dog, you should always pick a school or organization that is accredited by either Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation. These regulatory bodies only accredit service dog schools that uphold a certain standard, which means you will be getting the best service dog for your child.
Choosing a service dog is a serious task; make sure you are fully informed before you choose!
All information, data and material contained, presented or provided here is for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as reflecting the knowledge or opinions of Autism Canada, or as providing legal or medical advice. All treatment decisions should be made by the individual in consultation with a licensed health care provider.