Have You Considered How a Dog Could Enhance Your Child’s Life?
After extensive training, Mia, a beautiful black, Labrador Retriever, came to live with us as a guide dog when she was eighteen months old. Though I had always wanted a dog, I had never imagined the benefits one could gain from this opportunity.
Mia has added such joy and companionship to our lives. She has been invaluable in uplifting my husband’s spirits, guiding him through his life and, at times, entertaining us with her precious ways. She has also helped many of my students to become more talkative, calm, focused and socially aware. I will never forget the group of normally hyperactive eight-year-old boys with autism sitting calmly in a circle, petting Mia and talking, for the first time to one another about something other than video games!
If you are interested in finding a dog for your child, here are a few resources to get you started. You might also want to contact your local C.A.R.D. Center. Most animals can be obtained free of charge, as the training is normally funded through donations. Get ready to open your heart and watch your child grow!
So, have you considered getting a dog for your child with challenges? Here are some of the positive ways the dog might be of benefit to you, your child, and your entire family:
- Stimulate the use of language and communication. Dogs sometimes help children to vocalize, sign or communicate via augmentative means.
- Encourage daily living and self help skills.
- Reduce challenging behaviors and increase alternative/replacement behaviors
- Provide new play and leisure opportunities.
- Enhance socialization with peers.
- Provide opportunities for community integration. (Dogs are people magnets!)
- Encourage coping skills and self-regulation.
- Bring family members closer.
- Provide endless joy.
- Stimulate new friendships.
- Provide a focus on ability rather than disability
More About Service Dogs
- Considering a Service Dog? Meet My Monty
- Service Dogs to the Rescue: Helping to Make Dreams Come True
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2011 Magazine