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‘Nothing short of a miracle’: Dad tells of assistance dog’s impact on autistic daughter

At one point in their family lives, a Teesside mam and dad used to be on the receiving end of daily violent outbursts from their 12-year-old autistic daughter.

Frustrated at the world around her and with high anxiety levels, she would lash out at those nearest to her, sometimes drawing blood – usually her dad’s.

The outbursts would happen frequently and with no warning and there was little they could do to reduce them any further. Until now.

Read more: Dog back home and ‘smelling like roses again’ after 12 foot fall into smelly concrete sewage gully

The Stockton family managed to get their daughter onto medication which helped limit her outbursts to two or three times a week but they knew they had to do something more. So they took the decision to get an assistance dog and the change in their girl since the young labrador arrived in their home de ella, says her 53-year-old project manager dad, has been ‘nothing short of a miracle.’

The anxiety outbursts have disappeared to around one a month which has improved her life beyond measure. The specially trained dog, says her dad de ella, can pick up on her mood changes de ella and helps to comfort her in stressful situations, keeping her calm and focussed by being by her side de ella.

When he started to research getting an assistance dog, says the girl’s dad, he found the waiting lists were incredibly long so he set about finding a trainer who could help get things moving a bit quicker. The trainer found a dog and is working with him four days a week to get the animal ready for his new home full time, the other three days he spends with the family to get used to their daily routines.

The Stockton dad pays the costs himself but he’s now launched a crowdfunding campaign to help meet them – which he estimates will total £10,000 including the specialist training the dog requires. So far, the GoFundMe campaign is just a few days old and it has raised more than £2,000.

“At one point, my wife, me, assistants and staff at school used to get daily beatings, sometimes resulting in blood being drawn (usually mine),” said the dad. “We managed to get her onto medication which reduced the anxiety to a lower level reducing the outbursts. However, she was still prone to them two or three times a week. I then started looking into getting an assistance dog; these dogs are trained to an exceptionally high standard, recognize mood changes before they happen, and assist by either distracting or comforting.

“The introduction of the dog has now reduced my daughter’s outbursts down to maybe one a month, which has improved not only our daughter’s life but also ours and everybody who deals with her. The change is nothing short of a miracle,” he added.

His daughter was nine when she was diagnosed with autism and she has learning difficulties associated with it which all contribute to her frustration in understanding the world around her. Her outbursts from her happen because she does n’t know how to deal with life, says her dad from her.

“When she does have a meltdown it is violent and it is vicious,” said the dad. “Assistances dogs are able to react when things get heightened and intervene so it never gets to that point. He keeps her a lot calmer, she is able to play with him too. It is amazing when you see them.

“It will make a massive difference. I work away three days a week and there have been times when I have had to drive home when she is having a meltdown.

“We won’t have to worry so much about meltdowns. They’ve gone from two or three times a week to once a month. It makes a difference without a doubt.”

If he doesn’t hit the target, he says, he will fund the training and costs for the dog himself. Any money raised from the crowdfunding campaign, which you can find here, will go towards the dog’s training and ongoing upkeep ‘to make his daughter’s life so much better.’

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