John from AADI has passed on some info about the organization that I thought I'd share with everyone! AADI also has a special treat for one lucky fan! Read on!
So what's AADI?
Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland provides dogs that are specially trained to provide safety, independence and companionship to children who would otherwise live in a very isolated world. Having an assistance dog allows the families to be able to take their child to places that they had stopped going to and allows families to partake in simple everyday activities that the rest of us take for granted, such as a simple trip to a local shop, which can be very stressful for a child with autism.
How do the dogs assist?
The child is attached to the dog via a belt which is then linked to the dogs jacket ensuring the child is always safe and the parent then takes control of the dog by the lead. Autistic children sometimes don't have a strong sense of danger and will run after something. The dogs are trained to sit and prevent the child from running off. In addition, they can assist the child by providing companionship and responsibility for the care of the dog.
What is the training process?
It takes up to 2 years to train each dog. Each puppy is placed with a volunteer Puppy Foster Carer. The Foster Carer brings up the pup for the first 12 months, socializing the puppy so it can become a suitable assistance dog.
The dog then enters another 3 months of training, at which time, it is matched to a suitable child and family who will have already been assessed and accepted for an assistance dog. All dogs have access to shops and restaurants and wear a red jacket with a logo to identify them as an assistance dog. The family goes through intensive training with the dog to ensure they are confident with the dog before taking the dog home, followed up with aftercare visits to the home.
It costs €15,000 (approx. $17,000) to train each dog. AADI just placed 3 dogs last week - Elmo, Georgie, and Kasper.
Please follow AADI on Facebook! To celebrate Niall's birthday later in the year, AADI will pick one lucky fan who will get to chose a name for their next Puppy in Training and become that Puppy's virtual fosterer. (Terms and conditions apply) . The virtual fosterer will chose a name and then get a forthnightly updates on the dog's progress with pictures and video clips.