Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ties That Bind: 4 reasons why autism service dogs are awesome!

Blog shared from Autism Speaks, Ties that Bind Blog, 
This is a post by Maple Cabot, an entrepreneur and creator of InspirationSpark, the web's "inspiration hub." She is also aunt to Jack D, who inspired this article. Have a story you want to share? Email us your blog submission at!
My nephew, Jack, is on the autism spectrum. He is a truly wonderful kid, and I’m so lucky that he is a part of my life. He has struggled in many of the same ways other children on the autism spectrum struggle. He has difficulty making friends, communicating his thoughts and feelings, and controlling his behavior.
My sister and her husband have tried numerous types of therapy to help him better acclimate to the world, all with varying degrees of success. But recently they tried something that made an incredible impact on Jack’s life. They got an autism service dog. Honestly, I couldn’t believe the incredibly positive results. It’s almost as if having the dog by his side has completely changed how Jack experiences the world around him.
If you’re a parent considering getting a service dog for your child, here is a quick rundown of the benefits you’ll see.

1) They help manage sensory overload.

Facebook: Service Dogs for Autism
My nephew is extremely sensitive to loud noises and crowded places. Even a trip to the grocery store, if it is particularly busy, can be too much for him. He goes into flight mode and in the past has tried to runaway from his parents, in an effort to get out of the overwhelming situation. But as this guide on autism service dogs notes they can be a great help when a person on the autism spectrum experiences a sensory overload. And I can say from experience how amazing they are. My nephew goes everywhere with his service dog, and it’s amazing how the dog can help keep him calm.

2) They reduce stress.

What I’ve learned from my nephew is just how much stress and anxiety people on the autism spectrum feel every day. In addition to sensory issues, they can also become stressed and anxious in social situations. cites a study that found that kids with ASD “experienced a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a service dog was introduced into the family.”

3) They help keep children with ASD safe.

As I mentioned before, my nephew used to a have tendency to bolt whenever he experienced sensory overload. And as parents of children on the autism spectrum know, wandering is a constant concern. However, notes that service dogs can offer parents some relief and help keep their child safe. It explains that the dogs are actually trained to prevent wandering. If a child does try to go, the dog will intervene by “circling them and barking to alert family members.”

4) They're a great four-legged companion.

Facebook: Autism Dog Services
While my nephew’s service dog has helped in many functional ways, I think the biggest benefit the dog has provided is being a friend to him. My nephew has always had difficulty making friends. He has just never had the companionship that other kids experience. So, watching him with his service dog has been truly remarkable. confirms that this is a common occurrence between children on the autism spectrum and their service dogs. It notes that the dogs often become a source of comfort and great companions for the children they’re assisting.
Jack and his dog are inseparable. And while the dog certainly looks after Jack, it has been a pleasure seeing how invested Jack has become in caring for his dog. The two are best friends, and there’s no denying that Jack’s service dog has changed his life for the better.
Maple C is on a journey, just like you. Her source of inspiration is helping others achieve goals they never thought possible. She has owned and operated several businesses throughout her career, including a doggie daycare and a fair-trade clothing shop. Finally, she realized her true calling wasn’t to help people with the elements in their lives (as lovely and loving as dogs and dresses can be), but her passion is for building others’ lives. Today, she’s working to develop InspirationSpark into the web’s “inspiration hub.” She gets her own sparks of inspiration from sunset yoga, paddleboarding, and spending time with her husband and children.

Animals can chew plants for a variety of reasons.  If your family plans to bring holiday plants into the home this season, it is important to be aware of any potential safety concerns your pets may face if they eat your flowers.
Image result for poinsettia 


Poinsettia plants have a bad rap, but are much less toxic than most people assume.  While they can cause irritation to the mouth, and stomach upset if ingested.  Pets are unlikely to consume enough to cause real fatality concerns.  Even so, keep these plants up high, or outside, for those avid roughage consumers.
Image result for mistletoe 

Holly and Mistletoe

Image result for hollyHolly and mistletoe are also popular holiday plants. These plants, along with their berries, have a greater toxicity level than the poinsettia. Symptoms of illness from ingesting these plants can include intestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.  Larger ingestions, especially of mistletoe can cause very serious symptoms, and sometimes death.  Keep these plants well out of reach of any of your pets, or avoid them in the home altogether.

Image result for amaryllis


 The Amaryllis can be highly toxic to both cats and dogs.  The Amaryllis causes salivation, gastrointestinal abnormalities (vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain), lethargy, and tremors in both cats and dogs.  The bulb is the most toxic part of the plant. 

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

Fortunately, the Christmas Cactus plant is beautiful and not toxic to dogs in either its parts or flowers. The same lack of toxicity applies for cats. However, any fibrous plant material can cause irritation to the stomach and intestine, leading to vomiting or diarrhea.

Image result for christmas tree

The Christmas Tree

Whether artificial or real, having a Christmas tree in your home can present a challenge with both dogs and cats.  Lights and ornaments can pose a risk to the most adventurous of our pets.  Natural Christmas trees are fairly non-toxic, but pets that ingest enough of the needles and oils may see some mild stomach upset.  The water for the Christmas tree has the potential to have molds, fertilizers and bacteria throughout the month, and pets that drink the Christmas tree water may sicken as well.

Playing it Safe

If you do choose to bring any of these plants into the home, or place them near the entry way where your pet can reach them, be very careful about where you are placing them. Cats, especially, need to be considered, since they can jump to high shelves. If your cat is a known plant chewer, you will probably be better off choosing imitation plants over the real things. But, if your dog or cat does manage to ingest any part of these holiday plants, call your veterinarian or poison control immediately to find out what you should do to minimize the damage.

Image result for cat and dog in front of christmas tree