Having a service dog in public also allows for a more visual clue that a child may need extra help or support in their lives. Most children with autism look “normal.” Without the aide of a service dog, the judgemental stares of the unsuspecting passersby during a child’s emotional meltdown may shift to understanding that this child has a service dog for a reason.
Parents who may normally have to stay with a child while the other leaves the house for errands can go out together with the support of a service dog. Many times the dog provides the calming effect for hyper-stimulated children in over-complex and overstimulating environments. Service dogs provide a pleasant distraction from the lights and sounds that may normally contribute to the instability of run-of-the-mill situation for a child with autism. In the case of a meltdown, having the service dog provides a calming effect for a child in distress.
In extreme cases, autistic children that are nonverbal have been known to become verbal in the bonding and growing closer with their service dog. This is a significant benefit in developing closer bonding with other people in the child’s life as well as developing more social behaviors.
How a service dog helps
Service dogs can be like always having a trusted friend with you. It instills confidence in the disabled. An autism service dog is a service dog trained to assist an autistic person to help them gain independence and the ability to perform activities of daily living similar to anyone else. Service dogs benefit the well-being of their handlers, research shows. Service dogs can benefit them through helping with mobility – including helping with basic tasks such as opening and closing doors – or they can be trained to recognize and respond to the onset of a medical emergency such as a seizure.