Support Dogs provides, trains and supports assistance dogs to help families of children living with autism.

30 September 2019, 17:23

Heart's charity Global's Make Some Noise is proud to support Support Dogs, a small charity that provides, trains and supports assistance dogs to help families of children living with autism.

Children with autism experience disadvantages socially, emotionally and physically. They can be affected in a number of ways, and the developmental disability can impact the whole family – often parents act as carers. Autism assistance dogs have been shown to decrease the stress and social isolation that this can create.

Louis was diagnosed with autism in 2013
Louis was diagnosed with autism in 2013. Picture: Support Dogs

Following 18 months of training, assistance dogs are placed in a family environment. They provide safety and companionship, reduce stress and anxiety in social environments, and help to bring independence and a more socially inclusive life to both the child with autism and their family.

How Support Dogs helped Louis

The charity helps children like 9 year-old Louis, who was diagnosed with autism in 2013. Louis' difficulties means he finds it hard to communicate with others and express emotions. In the film above, Louis' mum Kelly explains the difficulties they face as a family never being able to experience a day seeing Louis react to situations in a normal way.

Louis' life began to change when they came across the work of Support Dogs and a devoted assistance dog, Iggy, joined the family.

Yellow Labrador Iggy, joined the family and it made a huge impact on Louis' life
Yellow Labrador Iggy, joined the family and it made a huge impact on Louis' life. Picture: Support Dogs

Kelly explained, "Iggy became one of the family straight away, the magic happens when Louis and Iggy are out and about and attached to each other. Iggy knows he's working when he is attached to Louis, that's when the partnership becomes one."

Many autistic children struggle with going outside due to their different anxieties and sensory reasons. Having an assistance dog like Iggy means that Louis is no longer confined to the inside of his home. Louis’ mum, Kelly, has seen an incredible difference to his life – including his anxiety, self-esteem and confidence.

The training given to Iggy means that he will stop Louis from running in the road, and if Louis tries going in a different direction than he should, Iggy will automatically adopt the brace position.

Kelly and Louis, on a walk with assistance dog Iggy
Kelly and Louis, on a walk with assistance dog Iggy. Picture: Support Dogs

Kelly has seen a huge difference in Louis, who used to have to regularly go in a wheelchair because of his balance and coordination difficulties. Ever since Iggy joined the family, Louis he hasn't been in the wheelchair once.

An assistance dog supports a family, just like Louis', for 8 years, and your support means Support Dogs can fund the ongoing training required to meet a child's changing needs.

Iggy is trained to help keep Louis walking in the right direction
Iggy is trained to help keep Louis walking in the right direction. Picture: Support Dogs

Project being supported by Make Some Noise

Global’s Make Some Noise is proud to support the charity, which provides on-going after care for families with autism assistance dogs.

As a child grows, their needs change, but ongoing training is provided to ensure that the charity’s dogs are meeting the changing needs of the child and their family. Development training ensures that dogs are able to learn additional skills to provide the most appropriate support for the entirety of the dog’s 8 year working life.

With your help, we can support this charity and many more across the UK.

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