At Dogs for Better Lives, we are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children with autism and their families. Our Autism Assistance Dog program has been a beacon of hope, offering support and companionship to children within the age range of 4 to 8 years old. To serve more families through this program, we are excited to announce significant enhancements to our Autism Assistance Dog program.
1. Broadening the Age Range:
One of the most significant changes we’re introducing is the expansion of our program’s age range from 4 to 12 years old. Broadening the age range of our applicants will allow for more families to be eligible to receive an Autism Assistance Dog. Studies have shown that children introduced to Autism Assistance Dogs at a very young age benefit greatly by enhancing learned communication skills, sociability, responsibility, as well as improving emotional well-being and enhancing self-regulation. By including children up to the age of 12, we aim to provide vital support to even more families who can benefit from our Autism Assistance Dogs.
2. Removing the Requirement of a Fenced Yard:
Autism Assistance Dogs are more than just pets; they are dedicated partners in helping children with autism lead fulfilling lives. To better cater to the needs of our clients, we have decided to remove the requirement of having a fenced-in yard for potential applicants. Our dogs are on duty 24 hours a day and are trained to work both in the home and in public settings. However, the greatest benefit of an Autism Assistance Dog comes from the work within the home.
Exercise is important for all dogs but is especially vital for the well-being of Autism Assistance Dogs due to the nature of the job. They need to be able to release stress and excess energy by playing and running. Our dogs are of the utmost importance to us as well as the clients we serve. To serve more children on the spectrum, we have determined that if an applicant does not have a fenced in yard or lives in an apartment but is able to provide sufficient exercise outside of the home, they will be eligible for one of our dogs. Dogs for Better Lives Field Reps are available to help our clients with ideas and creative ways to exercise dogs.
3. Removing the Requirement of In-Person Interviews:
In our commitment to providing a more accessible and accommodating application process, we have also decided to eliminate the requirement of in-person interviews. We understand that scheduling in-home interviews can be disruptive to a child’s routine and stressful, as it involves introducing a stranger and a dog into their home. With the growing experience of our Autism Assistance Dog program, we recognize that in-home interviews do not accurately reflect the picture of having an Autism Assistance Dog in the home.
Our primary objective is to set our applicants and, ultimately, our clients up for success. By removing this requirement, we aim to alleviate unnecessary stress and provide a smoother application process. Our focus remains on matching children with autism and their families with the most suitable Autism Assistance Dog and offering them the support and care they need.
We are excited about these enhancements and the positive impact they will have on the lives of children with autism and their families. At Dogs for Better Lives, we look forward to continuing our mission of enhancing the quality of life for children with autism, and we welcome all eligible families to explore the benefits of our program. Autism Assistance Dogs are provided to clients at zero cost, thanks to donor support. Learn more about the program and apply today: dogsforbetterlives.org/autism-dogs.