Link April 2019 Link April 2019 - Page 27

autism Images this page and opposite page are courtesy Assistance Dogs Australia. “The families once they have a dog, can get some money from NDIS if it’s included in their plan, but in terms of actually getting the dog, the organisation provides the dog free of charge. So yes, we really rely on donations from public,” he said. Assistance Dogs Australia’s dogs are trained for 18 to 24 months before being placed with a person, with 90 per cent of dogs coming from the organisation’s breeding program. “Last year Assistance Dogs Australia bred 60 puppies of very high quality. We are very proud of our breeding program,” Alberto said. “When we train the client, we travel to their home, and we carry on “Our programs are very much family based and family focussed and the dogs are integrated into the whole family in a very interactive and positive way.” the training with them in what we call post-class after care. We go to their Alberto said Assistance Dogs homes and we do up to six visits over Australia is lucky to have so the first two weeks, working with all many wonderful volunteers who members of family. welcome puppies into their home “Our programs are very much for the first 12 to 18 months of family based and family focussed their lives, providing them with and the dogs are integrated into the basic training and socialisation whole family in a very interactive and positive way.” Applications for autism assistance dogs are considered once a child is at least five years of age. Otherwise, “Our limits are the waiting list, and setting them up for success the availability of dogs and training prior to entering the organisation’s spaces, that is our biggest problem advanced training program. currently.” However, Assistance Dogs Australia Assistance Dogs Australia is looking for volunteers to become Assistance Dogs Australia places no has recently secured land in western puppy educators. More information is restrictions on age. Sydney to develop a national training available on their website. “A lot of organisations around the centre. The new centre, expected to world restrict from five to nine years be operational by 2023 with continued of age, or they restrict to non-verbal financial support from generous only, but we take the view that autism donors, will allow the organisation to doesn’t disappear when the child gets significantly increase its training and to nine years of age,” Alberto said. placement of assistance dogs, up to “In fact, the teenage-stage is very difficult for many families, so we 100 dogs per year. “It will make us the biggest are open to young adults to receive a (assistance dogs) organisation in dog and to improve their quality of terms of client provision – it’s fantastic life enormously. news,” Alberto said. linkonline.com.au www.assistancedogs.org.au autism 27