Everything you need to know about Autism Service, Companion, and Companion Dogs
Most of us couldn’t imagine life without our four-legged friends… but for some, their four-legged companion offers so much more than daily cuddles and unconditional love. Service, guide and support dogs for autism play a unique role in helping their humans navigate life, providing assistance and emotional support. SA Association of Guide Dogs for the Blind has associated its brilliantly trained dogs with people with special needs for almost 70 years now and has answered some frequently asked questions about all things guide dogs:
- What services does the Association offer?
As the name suggests, the association started working only with guide dogs for the blind, after Gladys Evans returned from England where she was trained with her guide dog, Sheena, and wanted to make the dogs – guides accessible to South Africans. Today, they also breed, train, and place guide dogs, service dogs, and autism assistance dogs, as well as provide counseling and life support services. mobility.
- What is the difference between a guide dog, an assistance dog and an autism assistance dog?
A guide dog is trained to guide a visually impaired person. They are taught to ignore distractions while safely guiding its owner from one destination to another.
A service dog assists a physically disabled person. The needs of each service dog owner vary, but they are generally taught to push, pull, and retrieve objects that are out of the owner’s reach. In the final stages of training, the service dog will learn the specific tasks required of its owner.
An Autism Support Dog comforts children ages 5-12 on the High Support Autism Spectrum. Autistic children don’t like to be restrained, but with the companionship a dog provides, the child is less likely to run away. An autism support dog can make a significant difference in the quality of life for both the child and the primary caregiver/family. Children with autism may feel pressured to keep up with the fast pace of the world around them. Having an autistic support dog lowers the pressure and expectations of the child due to the dog’s ability to accept and provide love unconditionally.
3. How to recognize the three types of assistance dogs?
– Guide dog: They are on duty when they wear a harness with a metal handle. The handle has a sign that says, ‘Do Not Distract’.
– Service and support dogs for autism: These dogs are on duty when wearing bright red jackets bearing the SA Guide Dogs logo.
– Puppies in training: As part of the working dog readiness training above, they are taken in by ordinary families during the ages of 7 weeks and 16/18 months for their socialization and obedience training to prepare them for their final formal training. They will wear blue jackets bearing the SA Guide Dogs logo.
4. What are the costs of training and getting a service dog? Under the service dog scheme, it costs investors hundreds of thousands of rand to sponsor a human and canine partnership as a guide dog team, service dog team or autism support dog team. Each new owner must pay a one-time nominal fee of R5 for their dog under the contract, R100 for equipment and R100 for accommodation during residential training – a total of R205.
5. What is the Orientation and Mobility Service? The Association’s Orientation and Mobility department provides orientation and mobility training free of charge (throughout Gauteng) to visually impaired people to increase their level of independence and provide them with ‘life skills’ .
6. How can I help?
- Sign up for a monthly debit order
- Volunteer your time by joining their Puppy Raising Scheme
- Sponsor the training of one of their service dogs or students
- Consider leaving an inheritance in your will at GDA
For more information about the South African Guide-Dog Association and the services offered, or to get involved, visit www.guidedog.org.za or contact [email protected] or 011 705 3512. Follow on social networks – Facebook: @SAGuideDogs / Twitter: @saguide_dogs / Instagram: @sa_guide_dogs