Smart Pups Assistance Dogs are trained to work with special needs children, specifically those on the autism spectrum disorder. The dogs undergo a rigorous training schedule before they are certified ready to work with the child.
Children of up to 18 years of age can acquire a Smart Pup where a team of three including the child, the assistance dog and an adult handler work together. Smart Pups can help autistic children overcome, or at least regulate certain behaviours such as reduce the child’s stress level, provide them more independence, redirect behaviours as well as prove to be a safe companion for the child.
To make sure that the assistance dog is successfully able to do all this and more for the child, the dog is trained from an early age at eight weeks with general training lasting between six months and a year. After that they are trained task specifically to address the individual needs of the child they will work with. The training process also involves family interaction with the dog where family members learn how to communicate with and care for the dog.
The training and placement process for every dog costs around $25,000. To cover the cost the organisation pursues sponsorship, fundraising and donations whereas interested families engage in various fundraising events. The maintenance costs for the service dog can be around $1,500 to $2,000 every year which rounds to about a hundred dollars per month.
Families looking to get a Smart Pup need to have their funds in place so that they can invest in a support friend for their child. For Anna Denman, who has an autistic son, Blake, the aim is to raise $15,000 through fundraising. Blake, who has issues like anxiety, repetitive behaviour as well as a speech disorder is hoped to learn and cope with his issues better with a Smart Pup by his side.
His mother hopes that having a Smart Pup will help her son develop more social skills, interact better with others and maybe even improve his speech skills more.
In the case of Luke Lockie, another five year old autistic child, getting a Smart Pup can help with taking the boy outside the confines of his home. Currently Luke is housebound as his mother suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and finds it extremely difficult to control the child when outside.
Her hopes are that with the help of an assistance dog Luke’s melt downs in public may be minimised and he gets more of a chance to be outdoors with a safety companion besides him. To get a trained autism assistance dog, Luke’s family needs to raise $10,000.
Children like Blake Denman and Luke Lockie can benefit greatly in expanding their skill levels and social skills by acquiring a Smart Pup that will keep them company as well as safeguard them when they are outside. With proper training in behaviour disruption, tethering and tracking, Smart Pups can be the most valuable friend for children on the autism spectrum disorder.
1) Quest to raise $15,000 for a helpful Smart Pup: http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/help-from-furry-friend/2229700/
2) Smart pups- What we do: http://www.smartpups.org.au/about-us-new/what-we-do
3) Smart pup holds key for Strathpine youngster – but it will cost $10,000: http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/moreton/smart-pup-holds-key-for-strathpine-youngster-but-it-will-cost-10000/story-fn8m0yu3-1226520651680