One Family’s Life with a Service Dog for Autism

Sasha and Duke

Sasha and Duke

Cry Worley, mom to Sasha who has autism and severe ADHD and is founder of the A.Skate Foundation, shared her story of living with a service dog for autism exclusively with the Autism Daily Newscast.

Cry Worley’s son, Sasha, is 11 years old. Worley read about service dogs for autism and always wanted to offer one to Sasha. Service dogs are expensive and Worley had been saving money to buy Sasha one since he was just 5 years old.

Although Worley was planning to find a properly trained service dog for Sasha, Sasha found, and fell in love with, a german shepard named Duke online when he was going through a wolf and german shepards phase. Duke had been in a dog shelter. When they brought him home they discovered he was « the worst behaved dog (they) had ever had ! » Nonetheless, it was clear from the beginning that Duke and Sasha shared a very special bond. Worley explains that Duke,

Sasha and Duke

Sasha and Duke

«  barked constantly, pooped on the floor on purpose, was yappy, dug holes in the yard, was always trying to escape outside, and was just a brat ! However, when Duke was around Sasha, he seemed to be in complete control of himself and act like a dog was supposed to act ».

Duke was loving, gentle and tolerant of Sasha from the beginning. Worley decided to invest the dog savings fund she had put aside into getting Duke trained as a proper service dog for autism.

Worley brought Duke to DogWish, an organization in California that specializes in training dogs to serve individuals with autism and other special needs. After 7 months of Duke training, the Worley’s family
spent 3 weeks in California with him at DogWish before bringing him back home. Worley explains

Sasha and Duke

Sasha and Duke

« A service dog’s training never ends. Although Duke was a certified service dog when we took him home (from DogWish), I continued Duke’s training through the support and guidance of DogWish ».

Having Duke as Sasha’s service dog and a part of the family has been beneficial in numerous ways. Worley shares

« Duke is a conversation starter for Sasha in public. Duke rides on airplanes and subways and stays in hotels with us when we travel. Having Duke available for Sasha during stressful situations such as traveling helps him get through these tasks without hesitation or meltdowns.»

Sasha and Duke

Sasha and Duke

Sasha has seizures and Duke even senses Sasha’s impending seizures.

Worley shares that

« Sasha and many other kids are drawn to animals. I feel that often children with autism have a special connection to animals. »

By providing your child with a service dog for autism, Worley adds, you are providing

« your child with a resource that can stay by their side everywhere they go… ».

 

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Copyright 2014 Autism Daily Newscast

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About Alix Strickland

Alix Strickland, BCaBA is an applied behavior specialist and founder and director of the Le Chemin ABA VB Learning Center for children with autism and other special needs in Paris, France. She is known as the « Green Behavior Specialist » because she uses natural cleansers and organic foods at her center in addition to making a lot of her own DIY, upcycled therapy materials. She coaches families and professionals in using ABA and Verbal Behavior strategies in France and abroad. Her website is www.lecheminaba.com.