Dogs for Good, an Oxfordshire-based charity which makes life changing differences to people with disabilities, has been awarded £60,000.
Over the next three years, this grant will help to fund the PAWS Family Dog workshops. The workshops help families with a child with autism get the most out of their relationship with their family dog. This grant will benefit 150 families across the country, including 40 families in Oxfordshire.
The series of three, one-day workshops use a combination of practical demonstrations, discussions, hands-on learning and course hand-outs to demonstrate the positive effect a well-trained dog can have on the behaviour and development of autistic children.
A well-trained family dog can assist both child and parents in several important ways:
- Companionship – a dog can provide a positive, calming influence on an autistic child; helping to reduce the impact and frequency of anxiety-related “meltdowns” which accompany autism
- Role model – children with autism can learn about life skills such as personal hygiene from understanding how important it is to groom their dog or brush its teeth
- Development of motor skills – joint laxity and other autism-related conditions can be aided by walking, grooming and playing
- Improving family relations – bonding with the dog gives an autistic child the confidence to engage with family members
- Motivation – a child with autism can feel safer going out for a walk, visiting new places or even going to bed by having a dog by their side
After the workshops, attendees can access further support from Dogs for Good by telephone and email as well as special advanced workshops for those who need it. There is also an online forum for parents, helping them to share experiences.
Since the workshops started at their centre in Banbury, nearly 1000 families have attended, with 75% now working with a family dog. They expect to help a further 550 families over the next three years.
Alison Pearce and her daughter are just one of the many families to have benefited from the PAWS workshops.
At the first workshop, I was amazed by the many ways in which a pet dog could be trained to help an autistic child and how this would benefit my daughter. I sat there thinking ‘this could be life-changing’. It was also beneficial to meet and talk to other parents of children with autism. I remember thinking ‘I’m not alone, these people really understand.
The help from Dogs for Good doesn’t just end after the course. We have continuing support and advice from the Dogs for Good team, and the help my daughter receives from her dog continues to increase.
Oxfordshire Freemason, Andrew Keech visited Dogs for Good to find out more about their work and see the dogs in action.
Andrew Keech from Oxfordshire Freemasons said: I’m very pleased we’re able to help Dogs for Good who do such wonderful work with autistic children and their families. Thanks to them, many hundreds of people have seen a huge improvement in their quality of life.”
Peter Gorbing, Chief Executive at Dogs for Good said: “This generous grant from the Oxfordshire Freemasons will help us to make a life-changing difference to more than 150 children with autism, and their families, nationwide. The workshops are always over-subscribed, so it’s fantastic to have secured this funding over the next three years.”