Which dog is right for you?
There is a difference between a service dog and a therapy dog. We’d add a third category – a companion dog that’s well-behaved and well-trained.
Service Dogs provide companionship and support for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Service dogs receive extensive training and official certification to help perform functions that present a challenge for a person with a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that people can bring their service dogs in all public areas – including restaurants and stores. Service dogs typically wear a “cape,” or harness, that identifies them and lets bystanders know they are working and should not be disturbed.
When used as part of your child’s therapy, Service Dogs can:
- Provide increased safety for the child;
- Help control the child by commanding the dog;
- Passively teach the child responsibility;
- Enjoy the right of full public access under the B.C. Guide Animal Act;
- Lower aggression and frustration levels, leading to positive behavioural changes;
- Provide comfort when the child is upset;
- Add a degree of predictability to social settings for both the child and parents; and
- Reduce social stress levels, allowing greater participation in education, as well as social and leisure activities.
As their name suggests, therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort in therapeutic situations. Typically, they work in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare and mental health facilities. They can assist with physical or occupational therapy, or simply help calm a patient undergoing a stressful medical procedure.
Companion dogs on the other hand are great idea for starting out and seeing what your needs are with a dog.
A well-trained family pet can be a wonderful calming influence for someone who has autism. An affectionate dog provides unconditional love and friendship on a daily basis. Walking the dog provides both exercise and a “social magnet” to ease conversation with other children. Learning to care for the dog teaches responsibility and practical skills. And pets provide parents with opportunities to teach and model caring behaviors and consideration of a friend’s needs – both important social skills.
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Is your little one a picky eater? Are they texture sensitive when it comes to eating curtain foods?
Here are some tips and tricks to try.
Change it up:
To help your child out, try preparing and presenting the foods they struggle with in a different way. If mashed potatoes make your kid cringe, try baked potatoes with their favorite topping or slicing them up and frying them in a pan.
Too hot? Too cold? Major problem. At least for these kids. Something as simple as the temperature being off can ruin a meal for them.
Casual table time:
Sitting down to an activity that’s uncomfortable is stressful enough without adding the pressures of a formal setting. Snacks, games and laughter can help diffuse the stress and help your child better connect to the family and the situation.
Change the venue:
Eating outside provides them with the sensory input they need and gives them a chance to play and eat at the same time. And sometimes eating in a new or different place removes the stress and negative emotions they may have built up toward your own dinner table.
Strengthen muscle tone:
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the phrase “but it’s too hard” come out of my picky one’s mouth while trying to encourage him to eat. Eating can seem as daunting as climbing a mountain if your child’s muscles aren’t strong enough to eat their food without tiring.
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For kids who have trouble sleeping, sensory techniques designed to calm and organize the body can be helpful.
One of the first things new parents learn at the hospital is how to swaddle their little bundle of joy because snugly wrapping a baby in a blanket provides calming tactile and proprioceptive input all over the body, making the child feel secure and safe.
What to do:
-Use heavy blankets or quilts at night or try a weighted blanket
-Try a bedding set from Beddy’s. These sets are like a fitted sheet, a comforter, and a sleeping bag all rolled into one. Perfect for kids who are particular about their sheets and blankets being straight and smooth and even more amazing for kids who need a little bit of firm pressure to calm their bodies.
-Play a game of “Kiddo Burrito” before bed, rolling your kiddo up tight for a few minutes in a blanket
-Provide firm all-over pressure by hugging your little one on your lap while reading before bed
-Give firm squishes to the body with a bean bag chair or pillow
-Try a few minutes in a cocoon swing or a beanbag chair
Show us a new mother and we’ll show you someone who has mastered the art of doing just about anything using only one hand, because babies LOVE to be held. Why? Being in someone’s arms provides tons of positive sensory benefits, including the relaxing effect of body heat.
What to do:
-Place a warm rice pillow in bed or try a Cozy Plush microwaveable stuffed animal
-Pop blankets or comforters in the dryer for a few minutes before bed
-Zipping up inside a bedding set from Beddy’s is perfect for keeping little bodies cozy and warm!
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