This is just too cute. Did any of you make it to this yesterday? Wish i could have went but unfortunately I only found out about it today.


This article looks at what is involved in training an assistance dog. Nuala Geraghty, a trainer in AADI , explains the benefits of having an assistance dog and the current process involved in training their dogs at their centre in Cork.

Prior to training, it is important to choose the right dog which means the right breed and a dog with a good temperament. As the dog is going to be an anchor for the child and will be attached, taking the body weight of the child at times, it is important that the dog is a large breed.

The training process begins within a foster family, where the dog is socialised and prepared for working within a number of different environments. At this stage, the foster carer gets the dog well prepared for wearing the AADI jacket and they are permitted to access all public areas with the dog. At the moment, it takes two years to train an assistance dog.

People who are interested in the process can apply for being a volunteer foster carer. AADI pay for all the dogs’ food and vet visits, while also checking in with the family once a month to make sure the process is going well.

After this, the dog is returned to the centre where Nuala begins the intense training for a further year. This is when the dog can then be trained to the specific needs of the child that they are going to be working with.

The process is currently taking up to five years in total, from the date of first application to the time the dog is trained to go to its home.

This article also goes on to look at horse therapy for children with autism. Martina Doran is a successful breeder and trainer of racehorses. At Equine Connection she uses her skills to train horses to help children with autism. She has found that horse therapy has helped children with autism to build their coordination and muscle strength. She claims that many of the children also build a bond with a specific horse and that parents have observed improvements in their child’s behaviours and witnessed the children showing affection to the horse that they would struggle to show otherwise.



I would just like to acknowledge the work that Saplings do on a daily basis. Saplings is a school for children with autism that are passionate about their work and do everything in their power to make the children within their school as independent as possible. They use a teaching method called ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis), to help children with autism deal with the challenges they face in everyday life. From my personal experience of working in Saplings for a year I saw the great work that they do first hand. There is small class sizes of children with a primary diagnosis of autism but there are many children who would also have other disabilities to deal with. Each child has a tailor made Individual Care Plan(ICP) that is updated regularly to meet their individual needs.

 The work the staff do on a daily basis is very challenging but also very rewarding. If there are any parents out there who are thinking of sending their child to a Saplings school I would recommend them to go and visit the school. Once you see the work they do you will know what I am talking about.

Although there is a lack of very good services available to children with autism in Ireland, Saplings, in my opinion is one of the few who provide great support to both parents and children with autism.


As mentioned in some of my previous posts, the ever rising number of people being diagnosed with autism in recent years is most likely due to the increasing awareness of the disorder. Many people with autism in the past were wrongly diagnosed with mental illnesses or being labelled “deaf and dumb”.
The Britains Got Talent star, Susan Boyle at the age of 52 has just received a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome, which is a disorder within the autism spectrum. Prior to this, Susan was diagnosed as having incurred brain damage at birth.
Susan has lived with this disorder for the past 52 years with no services or supports being made available to her due to her lack of correct diagnosis. Susan claims she was fully aware of the fact that a diagnosis of brain damage was not a fair explaination for the difficulties she experienced on a daily basis.
There are a number of people within a similar age group as Susan or older, that show many traits of autism but have not received a diagnosis. People who have a mild form of autism have been forced to struggle through life not knowing why they are different to their peers. Susan has said that she is releaved that she has received this diagnosis, as she now has an explaination for why she struggles in social situations. She also has said that this diagnosis will not change her life in any way, she will continue to do everything as normal but now that she is aware of her condition she can live with it.

This video shows a study that has been carried out in order to prove that Oxytocin can help children with autism. It is still in its early stages but on this occasion the study was successful in presenting results that improved behaviour of children with autism. The video itself is more of a recording with a monotone voice but could it be the beginning of some new findings?? I know I will look forward to what comes next in relation to this.

Custom  Canines is a non profit charitable organisation that raises, trains and homes assistance dogs.

I found this  interview with Custom Canines’ President, Nicole Meadowcroft, on the Autism Speaks Blog. This may be useful for any body considering getting an assistance dog as Nicole explains the main factors involved in having an assistance dog in your home.

1. The initial cost of the dog (many of the organisations provide the dogs free to the families who require them)

2. Allergies to dogs

3. Maintaining the health and fitness of the dog

4. The amount of training and instruction you will need to be provided with.

5. Considering whether the dog would be an enhancement or hindrance to the family.

Nicole was also encouraging people to be wary of these organisations as, some of these companies take advantage of families expecting them to pay large amounts of money for the dog and in return the family receive little instruction or preparation before the dogs are rehomed.

Depending on the individual child and their individual needs, the benefits of an assistance dog can differ.

From my experience of working with children with autism, I feel an autism assistance dog could help in the following ways:

1. Increases safety of child.

2. Dog responds to commands by parents.

3. The child will have greater level of independence.

4. Comfort for child in social situations.

5. Creates familiarity in unfamiliar settings.

6. May reduce child’s level of frustration and behavioural difficulties.

7. Parents anxiety in public settings can be reduced, knowing that their child is safe.

I know this article was first written in January 2013, so this isn’t new information but I think it has some very interesting points highlighted.

It is difficult to know whether vaccines are the cause of such a drastic increase in the percentage of children being diagnosed with autism in recent years. Could it be that we are just becoming more aware of autism and similar disorders? Is the assessment for autism more available today compared to ten or twenty years ago? Or is there something we are doing in the past few years that is causing this increase? Such as, overuse of vaccines? What do people think?
I would tend to think that autism was always as common as it is today but the system in the past ignored or grouped people with disabilities as “deaf and dumb” or “mental”. I would like to stress that I do not agree with these terms and would never use them but these are terms that people would have used in the past for people with some disorders or health issues.

Autism is a lifelong condition, with early diagnosis and special education, children with autism will be able to improve their social and communication skills. Unfortunately, such specialist care can be difficult to obtain in Ireland.

Some people with autism respond well to a hormone treatment of Secretin. This is not yet readily available in Ireland, and careful medical advice should be sought by anyone thinking about embarking on such a treatment.

Associated medical problems such as epilepsy will require treatment with anti-epileptic medications.

Children are born with Autism but for some reason in recent years, the number of children born with Autism has increased drastically. There does not seem to be a single cause of autism, but increasingly genetic influence is coming to be seen as important. It is more likely that identical twins will both be autistic than non-identical twins, for example. Autism is thought to be related to how the brain develops during pregnancy and shortly after birth. There is growing speculation in America about the influence of viruses and pollution on the development of autism. Having a bout of Rubella while pregnant may increase the chances of having an autistic child. There were also a number of studies carried out on vaccines, as mothers of children with Autism were reporting that only after their child received their vaccinations, did the signs of Autism begin to appear.

Leupold Show Dogs

Dogs, rottweilers, american bulldog, big dogs, strong, show dogs, top bloodlines, quality, puppy

Beyond Autism Awareness

Unique Perspectives on Autism and Families on the Spectrum: providing news, opinions, inspiration, and more. Knowledge is everything, for us and our kids. -courtesy of Healthy Aspirations, LLC


making sense of the senses, musing over muses... and just having great fun!

Colour My Story

A Kwantlen Polytechnic University event supporting BC Autism Support Dogs


Autism Assistance Dogs- Improving a Child's Life