It’s hard to quantify the many ways Dancer helps Zander manage his symptoms of autism and live a good life, but our afternoon walk to the park showed me some ways.
1. Safety – Some of the safety skills Zander practices with Dancer he
learned from our first service dog,
Bree. But the learning continues.
Before we had dogs, getting Zander
to stop at a stop sign or when crossing the street was difficult. But now, the
two of them “stop, wait, go” on cue.
2. Calming – Studies have
documented how the presence of a dog lowers humans’ blood pressure. I was reminded twice this afternoon that Zander stays calm and is not set off by old behaviors triggers when we have Dancer around. First a baby cried, well, wailed and Zander wasn’t phased.
Then a toddler tried to borrow (well, swipe) his beloved toy snake. He said “no thank you,” and went back to petting Dancer.
3. Social Skills – Dancer is a kid and parent magnet at the park. Today, a dad asked if his kids could pet Dancer and gave them a great lesson in why this dog is special and how to pet a dog … nicely. Zander shared his dog, which is a huge accomplishment.
Dancer, how do we love thee? We’ll keep counting the ways.