Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Service Dogs Have Appeal to Autistic Son

Last month I took my 14 yr old high functioning son Nicholas with me to the free exhibit day at the CSUN Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. A new roof was being put on the house we rent and I wanted him to get out of the house. He is homeschooled with California Virtual Academy.

This was the first year I have been able to attend to see all the exhibits. It is something I have known about since Matthew was in preschool and the AAC Accessor mentioned the conference to me.

This is an annual conference held at Hotels near LAX. Now that Matthew takes the bus and goes to Middle School I had enough time to drive over there and back before he arrived home. I do plan on writing about the exhibits I checked out over at Autism Spectrum Disorders.

I finally got to organize all the pamphlets and sample Cd's I got from the expo, but thought I would post here on the blog instead about the Service Dogs that were all around the exhibit halls at both Hotels.

The exhibit halls were all organized according to disability. There were many tables and displays for the visually impaired. This meant people bringing their service dogs. Nicholas is scared of dogs. During the eleven years we have lived at this house there have been many dogs in the neighborhood. We are a cat family and some dogs have chased and even killed cats.

One of the reasons he never took to bike riding is because all the kids that learn on the street have to endure the barking dogs from a few homes. The same with the skateboarders too.

Nicholas pointed out the service dogs to me. Some even had signs around their necks saying they were working and not to pet. There was no barking at all. Some dogs even seemed to be socializing with other dogs as they were grouped together when their owners were having a conversation.

We went to the second Hotel to see the tables and noted there were not too many service dogs at this location. We headed across the street to Burger King for lunch. Nick wanted to go back into the first Hotel where we had parked to do one more walk around the exhibits to see the Service Dogs again.

He also got to enjoy seeing the planes come in for landing and a few demonstrations of communication devices that would be a good fit for Matthew someday in the future. Nick talked about the dogs on the way home and for days later. He has started watching the Dog Whisperer again and the Dog Championship show recently on Animal Planet he put on DVR to see again.

Being around the Service Dogs gave him some confidence to be more comfortable around dogs. He even said he may try petting a dog someday. I thought this was such a positive experience for him that was so unexpected. I just wanted to get him out of the house and be the extra set of hands to carry more stuff for me.

It was nice to hear him talk about a different animal rather than just cats all the time.


Tanya @ Teenautism said...

What a great side benefit! Glad it went so well for Nick.

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear. Maybe you can check with your local library and see if they offer children an opportunity to come in and read a book to a therapy dog. If not currently, maybe they'd consider it in the future.

My library does that a few times a year. He may love that.

Let me know if you need more info.

Crystal said...

That's awesome!!

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