Did you know that April is Autism Awareness month? NEADS trains assistance dogs to help children on the Autism spectrum. Kids have a hard time fitting in and making friends, and social interaction for children with autism can be even more difficult. For many of these kids, a “social dog” can make all the difference. Dogs won’t judge a child; they don’t care how popular a child is or how he or she forms sentences. The constant companionship and friendship of such a loving creature can help a child with autism build confidence.
Social dogs accompany their partner to doctor’s appointments, restaurants, sporting events, and other public places. Many children who have a hard time coping with change find that having a constant companion can help them deal with transitions from place to place and can add a bit of consistency to each day. In this respect, the dog serves as a focal point for the child. Parents are also able to help their children learn to read body language and learn empathy for others by using the dog as a model. Because our dogs are confident and happy to be in new situations, they are great examples for children.