We train Assistance Dogs to support the families of children with autism

Applications for our Assistance Dog Programme waiting list are now closed.

It is our intention to open the list on an annual basis. Details of future list openings will be available on Facebook and on our website.

Assistance Dog Programme

Our Assistance Dog Programme includes a half day workshop, a week-long residential training course, as well as further training in your home to allow your Assistance Dog to settle in, which is then followed up with aftercare visits by our team of Instructors.

During your stay in our Training Centre you will learn how to lead your Assistance Dog through everyday situations, such as family outings, going to a shop or park.

You will also be taught the skills of dog handling, feeding, grooming and vet care.

Our Programme, which helps to ensure this is the right path for all concerned, is conducted in 4 Phases;

1.    Application

Applications to join our waiting list are done via our website. Currently applications will re-open at 12 noon on Monday 4th March 2019.

2.    Workshop for parents

A half-day workshop will be held in late March/early April 2019 in our national headquarters in Cork and must be attended by one or both parents/guardians. The workshop is designed to outline both the benefits and constraints of an Assistance Dog partnership and allows you to talk through anything that you are unsure of. We hold this workshop so the family are equipped with the information necessary to help make informed decisions. Full details will be sent in advance.

3.    Assessment

Your whole family will either be invited to our Training Centre in Cork or an instructor may visit your home to complete an assessment. This assessment, in collaboration with you and your family, will enable us to determine whether an Assistance Dog is the right mobility aid for your family.  This assessment generally takes approximately three hours and must be attended by your whole family.

4.    Matching Process

Once accepted for training, your family will be placed on the Awaiting Match List pending a suitably trained Assistance Dog becoming available that will match the needs of your family.

You will then be called for a Matching Visit in our headquarters in Cork and, should this be a success, you will be invited to formal Assistance Dog Training – what we call “class”.  One parent will attend training for one week in Cork during which we provide accommodation and food at a nominal total charge of €10.

During your stay you will learn how to lead your Assistance Dog through everyday situations, such as family outings, going to a shop or park. You will also be taught the skills of dog handling, feeding, grooming and vet care.

There will be a minimum four home visits in the first two weeks following training which your child will need to be available for.  It is recommended that the second parent/guardian would be present for these visits also.

It is important to note not all partnerships are successful.

Aaron Brian and Assistance Dog Mundy
Aaron, Brian and Assistance Dog Mundy

What are the benefits of having an Assistance Dog?

Our Assistance Dogs help to control and improve the behaviour of a child with autism by promoting calmness and acting as a safety aid to the parents.

With the help of our dogs, family outings can become less stressful as our dogs allow families to enjoy greater freedom and mobility.

Our dogs were first trained as a safety aid to prevent a child bolting.

Since then we have found benefits which include:

  • greater aptitude for learning;
  • improved participation in social activities;
  • improved communication skills; and
  • a greater sense of responsibility and improved confidence.

To help your child understand the assessment process, download our social story here.

Find out how Assistance Dogs change the lives of our clients:

Our Client Stories