Pawtism – Our Social Ambassadors.
I am a lover of dogs, and have had the joys and privilege of enjoying their companionship for more than twenty years. But none of them were trained to be Service dogs and yet they have supported me – through my own trials and tribulations of living with Aspergers. I was not diagnosed until my early forties, and never had a dog of my own as a youngster. However, whilst l am not overly anti-social, l am not Mr party animal either – my dogs have been my social ambassadors.
I have in many respects more empathy for fellow dog owners, and am more likely to be social when walking with mine. Scrappy as an example bridges that gap for me, and allows the crossing of the bridge more easily into contact. Dog owners are easier to talk to if you too are one.
And that is the beauty of having a dog by your side, irrelevant to your age – they can improve your own personal ability to communicate with others, as they can reduce the stress that is associated with the problems of interacting with people and socialising. You can talk about each other’s dogs, and have a reason to communicate in the first place.
If as a child l too had had a dog as a companion, then perhaps l would not have caused my parents as many awkward moments with my observed inappropriate behaviour or lack of social graces, for l could have focused more on my buddy than on the overwhelming sensations that filled the air around me. In so doing l would have reduced the stress that my parents felt – but back then l was only perceived as being an odd child with even more bizarre routines and patterns and not as a boy sitting undiagnosed on the Spectrum.
So for me, and the idea of supporting Autism Service Dogs’ for children, but equally for adults is not too hard to buy into as a concept.
You may ask yourself how do ‘Trained Service Dogs’ actually benefit others?
- Offer a unique companionship, understanding and emotional support, patience and an unconditional love that not all people can provide.
- Acts as a gateway to social interaction and communication to not just children to peers but also adult to adult.
- Awards comfort during upsets and when overwhelming situations arise through sensory overloads.
- Increases safety for their owners.
- Can make a huge difference to families and carers and reduce stress.
- Have the ability to empower their owners and raise the bar of active awareness to the presence of Autism to unknowing and discriminating onlookers.
- Enables parents to have a firmer control of their child via dog commands.
- Encourages health and wellbeing and increases positivity in behaviour.
- Their presence can make a very small isolated world suddenly blossom into life not just for their owners but for their families.
- Service Dogs improve the quality of life for those affected with Autism.