Our Autism Assistance Dog program changes lives
Your support makes a lasting difference to the lives of children living with Autism and their families. Children just like James...
The Guide Dogs team first met James in 2014 when he was just three years old. James lives with severe Autism and struggled every day with sensory overload. Every day experiences would cause James extreme distress - being touched, strong sunlight or the sound of changing traffic lights.
James' Mum Vickie remembers what life was like during this difficult time, "I was constantly overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness. James would scream relentlessly. I didn't know how to help him."
James spent his early years in isolation, 'trapped' at home in a quiet, dimly lit house, with any outside light being blocked by blinds, all to avoid any triggers for sensory overload. This was no life for a little boy...
James' life changed when he was matched with Autism Assistance Dog 'Danzi'
Four years ago, our generous donor community rallied around James to provide him with the Autism Assistance Dog he so desperately needed.
Due to the complexity of James' sensory issues, James needed a very confident and intuitive dog. 'Danzi' was the perfect match for James.
Vickie vividly remembers the day that James met Danzi, "the difference in James' behaviour was incredible. I can barely think about it without crying."
Your support makes a lasting difference to children like James
James is now almost eight years old and has come incredibly far. James' amazing progress demonstrates the long term benefits of our Autism Assistance Dog program as an early intervention for children living with Autism.
James' confidence has grown since being matched with Danzi. James is now talking and will often respond to friends and familly greeting him.
Today James is enjoying outdoor activities like bike riding, camping, and go-karting with his friend Kaine. This is something Vickie always dreamed of, a dream that came true when James was matched with Danzi.
Vickie couldn't be more grateful of the generous donors who helped make this all possible... "the AAD program has given James independence, security, and above all, the safety and reassurance he so desperately needed. Danzi has been his biggest therapy so far. He adores her."
Our Autism Assistance Dog program needs your support
It is highly unlikely the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will provide the funding needed to place our Autism Assistance Dogs with children and families in need. The NDIA will only consider funding extreme cases, where all other therapies have been exhausted. This decision adversly impacts the purpose of our Autism Assistance Dog program which is to provide early intervention to children just like James.
Susan, our Principal Clinician, Guide Dog Services explains why early intervention is so important for a child living with Autism, "early intervention with an Autism Assistance Dog means more positive behaviours and self-calming skills can be established early, rather than later."
Every Autism Assistance Dog costs in excess of $35,000 to raise and train so you can understand why Guide Dogs needs your support to help continue this incredible program.