27 Apr 2016

Autism Service Dog



Why do Autism Service Dogs matter? As a newer member to the service dog world, we find that so many families aren’t aware that such a service dog exists. This month, SDWR celebrated Autism Awareness month. Through videos, photos, and personal stories we wanted to highlight not only the way our autism service dogs change lives but also the way that autism can challenge families. This invisible disability isn’t fully understood or anywhere as researched as it deserves. And SDWR thinks that Autism Awareness matters and so do our service dogs.

Not sure why? Watch this video. You see, families are put to the test by autism. They struggle to find the right therapy options, to communicate, and to work with an ever-changing world and a hyper-aroused child. This diagnosis is so much more than the stereotype shows, it’s a diagnosis that rocks families. This video highlights the concerns parents of children on the spectrum deal with and the way an autism service dog can help.

What Families Say About Autism Service Dogs


We live in Stafford, VA. We have 2 sons, 8 and 5 years old with moderate and severe autism. We contacted SDWR a little over a year ago now and after visiting the farm at Easter 2015, we signed the contract and began our fundraising. We finished our commitment in 2.5 months and received Jaxon, a beautiful golden retriever.
Jaxon has brought a lot of wonderful things into our lives. The comfort and support that he provides to both our children no one else is able to do.
Jaxon brought a “yes I can” attitude to our 8 year old, Owen, who has a very poor self image with no self confidence. Jax is that friend that is always there for him and to a child that thinks no one likes him that’s important. Jaxon learned how to cover Owen like a weighted blanket in his first training session with the trainer. Owen uses this “cover” command daily to calm himself when he is getting overstimulated. Owen has also been working with Jaxon at school with my assistance this year. He has gotten so good at handling Jax, I would say Owen does 99% of the handling. It won’t be long that Owen will not need any support. Which again is amazing for a “I can’t” type attitude/personality.
Landon, 5 years old was completely non verbal before Jax arrived. Now, Landon scripts and sings, Thomas the Train songs. He still doesn’t have back and forth/spontaneous language yet. But, at least we are getting something. 🙂 We also use Jaxon as ballast and we tether Landon to him when going out in public. It’s funny when Jaxon first arrived Landon didn’t want anything to do with him and we watched Jaxon wait for him. Never pushing Landon’s limits, just waiting for him to want to touch him. Then after about a week Landon was irritated with us and was whining and fussing. Jaxon just stood next to him and Landon started petting him and stopped whining and fussing. We are also training Jaxon to Search and Rescue Landon, since Landon can’t verbally speak and is a wanderer. This is a VERY important job he will do for us!
Both children use Jaxon in different ways that support their needs and Jaxon is there for both of them.
This has probably been the best tool we could have ever given our children. Jaxon always seems to know who needs him and will approach that family member waiting to provided emotional support… Even if its me or my husband.
If I could say one thing about SDWR and our Autism Service Dog, Jaxon…it would be, No Regrets.
Best Wishes,