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Dogs for Autism: How a dog can unlock life for a whole family

By July 13, 2021May 1st, 2022news & updates
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Have you heard of Dogs for Autism? 

They provide autism assistance dogs, at no charge, to autistic people of any age, anywhere in the UK.

Dogs for Autism is the first charity in the UK to specialise in autism and the only charity who provide dogs free of charge to people of all ages, including those over the age of ten, therefore filling a significant gap in provision. They support children and adults across the autistic spectrum, from those who are non-verbal with complex learning difficulties, to high achieving university students. Dogs for Autism is proud to be a candidate member of both Assistance Dogs UK and Assistance Dogs International.

The charity provides an intensive level of support tailored to each autistic individual’s needs; for the majority this provides a lifeline where no comparable help is available.

Since 2019 Dogs for Autism has trained 30 dogs and the impact upon family life has been profound and life-changing, as families report positive changes from the early meetings, including increased independence, confidence and self-esteem in the autistic partner, resulting in an overwhelming improvement in the quality of life for the whole family.

Many autistic people struggle to go outside and this has been made worse by the pandemic, with some people afraid even to go into their garden.  We take for granted the joys and riches of being able to access the outside world and to go for a trundl, but many of the people who apply for an autism assistance dog experience profound barriers to experiencing their world and just aren’t able to do this.

‘In the first lockdown I didn’t leave the house for 13 weeks.  I didn’t even go in the garden.  But when we had Lola, I was going out every day, we were going for about an hour walk with her.

The Autism Assistance Dogs provide task-based support which grounds the autistic person in overwhelming situations (sensory overload – sounds, busy environment, smells, lights etc) – this in turn reduces the often-disabling anxiety associated with leaving the home.

With the help of an autism assistance dog their potential is finally unlocked in a way that no other support or interventions achieve.

‘Today, Poppy our amazing dog, took my daughter out to play. This might not sound like a big thing until you understand that she didn’t go outside for nearly 4 years due to her anxieties. Having Poppy has made it possible to go outside, to play, to laugh, to feel safe and protected from the world around her. In short, Poppy has made living a normal life possible and we can’t thank her enough’.

Dogs for Autism is very grateful for the support of trundl – and hopes that trundlers will enjoy getting outside, while supporting some really good causes in the process.