Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

World Autism Awareness Day Puppies

1 Apr 2011With World Autism Awareness Day fast approaching on April 2, I thought I would share something that I found, relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Firstly, some of you may already know of my love for animals, I wanted to bring attention to a fabulous organisation, which has been created to assist people living with ASD’s. I am a firm believer, that animals can have a huge positive impact on the lives of children and adults living with a disability. They can assist them to overcome all sorts of life hurdles that are unique to the disabled world.

The organisation that I stumbled across is called Siberian Snow Babies. The program began many years ago, when a family, who bred and trained dogs, learnt of the impact that the dogs had on their daughter who was born with an ASD. They decided to train one of their dogs, to specifically suit her individual requirements. After doing so, her progress skyrocketed, and an organisation was born.

Siberian Snow Babies, trains Siberian Husky’s and Alaskan Klee Kai’s. Using these two types of dogs has many benefits. They are free of any types of dog odour, which can turn some people off. They have a unique metabolism, which means they are more cost effective, when it comes to feeding them. They require less exercise than other small to medium sized dog breeds. They are highly intelligent.

Dogs have been linked to sniffing out cancer and other undetectable scents, with their super sensitive noses. The Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Klee Kai who undertake training with Siberian Snow Babies, are trained to recognise a hormone in humans, called cortisol, which is released when someone is experiencing stress.

When a person with ASD experiences stress, it could cause them to dart off suddenly, or run into a dangerous area without thinking, break into a rage or experience high levels of anxiety. When the dog smells the cortisol hormone on their owner, they are trained to distract them, to prevent the stress levels rising or developing into a meltdown. The dog will either, alert a parent or carer of a ‘runner’, redirect stimming behaviours (repetitive tapping or rocking movements), reduce anxiety in high sensory conditions, and calm their owner, by ‘lapping’ them, (putting their paws on their owners lap or jumping up into their lap).

Siberian Snow Babies also offers a unique payment option, so families are able to pay off the cost of the dog over the duration of the training period, which can take one year or longer. This gives the family time to organise funds if required, through a charity for example.

Before a dog arrives at its new ‘forever home’, Siberian Snow Babies ensure that all of their puppies are checked by a vet, wormed, vaccinated and micro-chipped. The puppies are raised indoors, socialized with adults and children, introduced to other pets, handled and loved daily, and even come with a lifetime return policy, (not that you could ever return one of these adorable creatures).

From the beginning, the service allows for the best positive outcome for your child or relative. They match the dog’s personality, to that of their future owners’ to ensure that they will get the most out of their new best friend.

Studies have shown that a certified service animal can improve the quality of life of someone with ASD, socially, emotionally and personally. For example, most people with ASD’s find it difficult to interact socially. If they have a service animal with them, this can make it easier for people to start conversations with them, which encourages discussion with new people.

For further information about this service, please visit: www.siberiansnowbabies.com/animals_for_autism - Siberian Snow Babies, is only available in the US, but there are similar programs that exist in Australia, such as; www.righteouspups.org.au/ or www.smartpups.org.au/ If you know of any other services, or if you’ve used either of the one’s that I’ve mentioned, please share your story, so other’s could possibly benefit.

Isabella

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