Did you know that having a dog sleep on the bed can help a child with autism sleep through the night? The dogs presence helps the child know where their body is in space and that helps them feel safe. Many children are able to sleep through the night in their own bed for the first time ever when they get their Good Dog!
Often when a child gets an autism service dog it's their first opportunity to care for another being. This added responsibility can be both exciting and motivating!! Sometimes it takes a while, but eventually most of our kids take on the responsibility of brushing both teeth and fur, feeding and bathing their best friend.
Autism Service Dogs can be a bridge to Independence for our kids! Here Good Dog! Dude accompanies Alex at Disneyland & on the bus! Go Dude!
by Laura Sylvester
Two months ago we celebrated the graduation of the Good Dog! Autism Companions Class of 2015. Presently we are hard at work matching our newest teams for our next rising class. When we begin matching potential canine and human pairs, there are several factors to consider. Good Dog! uses a three tiered system to evaluate personality compatibility, the child’s specific needs, and family environment.
When our service pups in-training reach approximately 16 months of age we begin the matching process, where we assess for potential compatibilities between our dogs and the parent handlers. Using Bonnie Bergin’s “Social Styles” scale, we assess both the parent and dog’s levels of assertiveness and responsiveness. Our team plots both the dog and parent’s traits onto a grid to see how they fall in relation to one another. Bergin’s “Social Styles” allow us to classify each person and pup into four basic categories: analytical, driver, amiable, and expressive. Each category can be further divided into subcategories: analytical-analytical, driver-analytical, amiable-analytical, expressive-analytical, driver-driver, driver-amiable, drver-expressive, amiable-amiable, amiable-expressive, expressive-expressive, and expressive-driver.
by Good Dog! Koa's Mom - Lisa
posted with permission by Aaron's Mom, Lisa:
The past two days have marked a turning point in our family’s life. We went back to Disneyland for the first time in five years! August is typically the most difficult month for Aaron, and one of the most crowded months at “Neeland" (as Aaron used to call it) but we just had a hunch our boy was ready. And, of course we have Koa now...
As we walked up to the gates, Steve and I both choked up. How could we not feel that way? Aaron was happily skip-walking along, Koa’s leash in his little hand, Small World playing in the background. The moment was awesome. Aaron did not show any trepidation. He was just HAPPY … Our sweet boy, who frequently struggles with some of life’s easiest tasks, was centered and joyful. The moment took our breath away.
by Laura Sylvester & Good Dog! Hero's Mom - Tamara
As an autism Mom, I understand the motivation in wanting an autism service dog for your child -- after all, that is how Good Dog! was born. We dream of seeing our children calm, focused and regulated. We hope that the dog will help them sleep through the night, motivate them to play, talk, engage, and encourage responsibility. We yearn for them to be connected to others, hoping the dog will serve as a social bridge and lead our child to gain a friend. BUT, the true miracle is the increased LOVE, ACCEPTANCE AND CONNECTEDNESS that most people show our families when we are in public with our child and their Good Dog.
Our Puppy Petting (aka socializing) event was a huge hit!
I think the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" was made for this event!
For Autism Awareness day Rick and I took the day off work so we could have a family day. We took Elliot and Orbit on one of our favorite walks -- the San Clemente Beach Trail. We were not more than 200 yards into it when a runner said something to us as he ran by. I asked Rick what he said because I hadn't heard him. "You all sure look happy," Rick repeated. I thought to myself, "Of course… Look at this day, look at this view. I am with my family and I am so proud of both my boys" (pictured above).
by Rick Sylvester
“There are those who give with joy,
by Laura Sylvester
The title of this blog is a quote from a movie called Infinity. It is a favorite of both Rick and I. It also happens to be the single most important lesson Elliot has taught me. Whenever I see parents out in public with their autistic child(ren) and they look ashamed or embarrassed of their kids, it just breaks my heart. It hurts because that was me a few years ago. I can vividly remember the turning point when I decided that doing right by my son - being loving and present with him - was always more important than reacting to the judgments others might be placing on us. I had been struggling with this issue for most Elliot’s life not really aware that there was an alternative to feeling and being imprisoned by it. My hidden belief and behavior system was challenged when I read the book, Son-Rise a Miracle to Believe In. A shift in my thinking began and rock solid change would come when I replaced one way of thinking with another.
by Laura Sylvester
I first met Kyle at his family’s home during a scheduled “puppy visit.” This is when our trainers bring a GoodDog! Puppy-in-training for a little play date with his future kiddo companion. It went a little rough, as Kyle was frightened of his soon to be service dog, Leo. He would retreat to the top of his play structure in the back yard for safety, so Leo couldn't get too close. But from afar, Kyle was always watching Leo with a cautionary interest. This scenario might lead one to wonder how a bond would ever happen here. The answer lies in fast-forwarding to current day, as I’ve just heard from Kyle's parents, Kevin and Rachel. It’s so exciting to hear how Kyle and Leo's relationship is blossoming!
Here is the short story Kevin told me that I am so eager to share...