Autism is a condition often diagnosed in childhood. It presents itself with abnormal behavioral changes and often presents with an inability to communicate using speech. These children can be non-verbal or verbal autism sufferers, but the spectrum is wide, and it is different from person to person.
A popular method of treating autistic children is through play therapy, but more specifically, animal therapy. This can be horse therapy or having a support dog matched with you, to stay at your side at all times. One support dog in Sheffield has changed the lives of the Fletcher family forever. Thomas is a 7-year old boy living with autism. He is part of the Fletcher family of four and has a support dog, Marky, at his side.
Marky was paired with Thomas by the Sheffield-based charity Support Dogs and has been training for weeks on end to become a certified support. Marky has to complete his final exams for certification and because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, this has been put on hold. However, through Zoom sessions, he could still take part in his required training with qualified handlers. Despite the interruption in plans, Marky has still had a significant impact on the Fletcher family.
According to mom, Dr. Fletcher, autistic son, Thomas, has no sense of danger. Due to this condition, he used to run into the road, and unknowingly expressed dangerous behaviors. This led Dr. Fletcher to investigate the process of a support dog and she immediately applied to have Thomas matched. When the day came that Thomas and Marky were introduced to one another, the effect on Thomas was remarkable.
He was calm, quiet, and collected. The family says that Marky has been in their lives for nine months now and is starting to detect when he is needed by Thomas. The effect Marky has on Thomas is nothing short of life-changing, as he can now be part of everyday activities without lashing out or losing control.
Images & Feature Image Source: Simon Hulme