Meet some of the kids living with Autism and anxiety who have received assistance dogs thanks to the amazing Petember pack!
About Assistance Dogs
Assistance dogs are working animals that are specially trained to help people who are living with disability to manage sensory issues, move around, do everyday activities and tasks, and be more independent.
Selected puppies are trained for around 2 years to become assistance dogs. Puppies are chosen for having a good temperament.
They spend their first year to 18 months living with a volunteer puppy educator before undergoing around 6 months of advanced training specifically tailored to their new owners needs.
Variety - the Children's Charity provides funding for assistance dogs for kids living with disability. Assistance dogs cost between $20,000 and $40,000 to train and one of Variety's most in-demand grants.
Reilly and his assistance dog Jason, supported by Variety.
Archer is 6 years old and loves LEGO and trains. He lives with his grandparents and has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Behavioural Dysregulation, which make many day to day activities tricky.
Archer faces a number of communication and safety challenges in the classroom which make it hard for Archer to build and develop social and communication skills and understand relationships. Outside of the classroom, Archer needs to have his grandmother present at all times in order to avoid becoming disruptive or distressed.
To help Archer reach his full potential, Variety funded an assistance dog. For Archer, an assistance dog will help him regulate his emotions both at school and at home, offer the chance to interact more with his peers and attend play dates and social gatherings. His special dog will help keep Archer calm and focused in the classroom, and provide greater independence and ability to access his community as he grows up.
Jett received his assistance dogs thanks to the support of Petember participants. His mum Kate said:
"I don’t think I can express enough in words how grateful we are to Variety Petember participants and donors".
"Autism can be very isolating for a child and their family and looks and feels different for each and every one. Your kindness during a very strange period in our world sends a beautiful message of caring to include everyone in our community and will change our lives!
For Jett and our family, welcoming an assistance dog into our world is life-changing. Autism presents differently for every person with a diagnosis. Because Jett is verbal, happy and academically does well, many people question his diagnosis. Although his abilities mean he can access things in the community, this can also create more challenges as he sometimes does not receive the support that he requires. This creates anxiety, confusion, and sensory overstimulation for him and in turn the rest of our family as we struggle to support him at home when his anxieties and confusion manifest.
Milo provides a constant for us and our family - offering sensory support and friendship for Jett and his younger brother.
The calm companionship Milo will give and the support and friendship he will provide Jett at home which can then be beneficial at school, swimming lessons and the playground."
"An assistance dog is selected and chosen especially for that family to suit their needs and challenges. For us Milo will lower that base level of anxiety that stems from Jett’s sensory overstimulation, misinterpreting social cues and rigid thinking.
In our time with Milo, it has been beautiful to observe the subtle things that he supports Jett with. Patting and stroking Milo helps Jett to self-regulate his emotions and Milo lying in his lap, providing deep pressure, slows Jett down and lowers his anxiety levels.
The immediate visual feedback that Milo is able to give to Jett (that humans can show in very confusing ways) has enabled Jett to start making the links between social cues. “He’s wagging his tail because he’s happy you are playing with him” for example.
Having Milo will enable us to emotionally coach Jett with support from his psychologist so that Jett can apply these learnings to his peers and be able to access the wider community. All very “real” experiences that will help Jett at school, home and life.
Now Jett will be able to go out and leave the house calmly and safely!
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done."
Jett's Mum, Katie