Reducing autism spectrum disorder with trained dogs

Po To Jestem encourages children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and mental disability to work with specially trained dogs and acquire basic universal non-verbal communication skills.

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Country

Poland

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Duration

2 years

What does the project solve?

This project allows simultaneous development in two areas of essential social skills for children and adolescents with autism and/or mental disability.

  • Founded in 2008, Po To Jestem specializes in training dogs for Animal Assisted Therapy and socialization of guide dogs. “Po To Jestem” started professionally working with dogs 12 years ago.

    The organization cooperates closely with the local university, as well as most therapeutic and educational facilities in the area. It has a rich experience in organizing events and projects focused on improving the quality of dog-human relationships.

    Since 2015, this project is recognized by the Polish Government as a Public Benefit Organisation.

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  • Po To Jestem encourages children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and mental disability to work with specially trained dogs and acquire basic universal non-verbal communication skills. This is done in a two step process.

    1. Children and adolescents with ASD work closely with a highly trained team to help better understand the patterns of animal behaviour.

    2. The children and adolescents with ASD learn how to communicate with the therapy dog using universal hand signs such as Stop, Come, and pointing at various objects. These hand signs can then be transferred into interpersonal communication.

  • For the last seven years, the NGO has developed and introduced the above-described method in 20 facilities in West Pomeranian district of Poland, where therapeutic sessions are taking place on daily basis.

    Therapists and specially trained dogs visit the facilities and perform the training sessions.

    - What to expect Children with ASD are less vulnerable to a panic reaction in contact with dogs and other animals and have better comfort during daily walks on the street.

    - Children with ASD have better non-verbal communication skills and can express their boundaries and needs.