Autism and ADHD is not always an easy condition to deal with. It not only affects the individual in question, rather it affects the entire family. There are good days and bad days, but the worst days can leave you, the parent or the caregiver, feeling frazzled and hopeless.
There has been a lot of evidence to show that dogs can positively impact those with autism and ADHD. Getting a service dog could be an excellent step to help one cope up with their anxiousness and better their confidence levels.
How Can a Service Dog Help?
A service dog is trained by a specific organisation to perform tasks that will help people with mental or physical limitations so that they can live a more independent life. In addition to their ability to help them in this regard, they are also able to act as an emotional support and general companion, providing their owners with a friend that they can rely on and talk to when they need it.
Generally speaking, it takes around a year for a dog to be trained, and then they are sent to their new home. Service dogs are also allowed to go everywhere with their owner, including places like the supermarket and shopping malls. They have more access than other forms of support dog, and you are required to obtain a medical referral and specific documentation before you can be put on the waiting list for one. The best place to start with is with your doctor, who can start the process for you.
Service Dogs for Autism
One of the best ways a service dog can help a child or someone with autism is preventing self-harming behavior by gently interrupting it when it occurs. An example of this is head banging or the child hitting themselves repeatedly.
Often, a service dog will place a paw on a person’s arm or nuzzle them to distract the behavior and make itself (the dog) the central focus – helping them become calm. Service dogs also help to de-escalate an emotional meltdown by sensing increased levels of anxiety or agitation.
Usually, service dogs respond with a calming action, like leaning gently against the child or laying across their lap. They also provide unconditional love and will never judge one for their behavior or scold them, accepting them for who they are at all times.
A service dog for autism is a constant companion that provides friendship and love on top of preventative measures. They can be quite expensive, but there are loads of ways to raise the money and charities will help you as much as they can. However, they are well worth it for their extensive training and the joy they will bring to the whole family.
Service Dogs for ADHD
Much like autism, ADHD works on a bit of a spectrum, with there being several different levels and severities. Regardless of the kind of ADHD symptoms severity, a service dog can be helpful.
This section will walk you through some helpful reasons
The one who suffers from ADHD undergoes something called Optimum Arousal, which means they cannot focus on one thing at a time. Having a service dog around can make you realize that you are zoning out and bring you back into focus, and can also help to provide boosted stimulation to allow your child to concentrate again.
At times, people with ADHD also have sensory processing or tactile issues. This can make it hard to focus when having a conversation as there are so many other sensory items being thrown at the child, but having a dog to stroke while you talk can help to refocus the mind – so the only things being thought about are the conversation and the way the dog’s fur feels.
In addition to this, regular exercise and routine are two of the other things that come with a dog of any kind – and children (as well as adults) with ADHD need this in their lives. Dogs love routine, and they will make sure you fall into one, which results in your day becoming much more structured. Exercise also reduces ADHD symptoms and leaves the dog feeling happy.
For further information on service dogs, as well as the ways in which dogs can help mental health, please check out our detailed guide here.
Service dogs are able to do a world of good, and they can be a pillar of support for your child – especially during those really tough days when nothing seems to be going right for them. In many ways, it helps take the pressure off the kids, and you, ensuring that everyone is able to lead a calmer and more relaxed life.