April is National Autism Awareness Month

autism awareness month

Since 1970, the Autism Society has designated April as National Autism Awareness Month – a month to promote awareness and educate the public about a condition which affects approximately 1 in 59 children in the United States, according to statistics from the CDC.

Our autism service dogs help improve the lives of those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders, and we are proud and privileged to be able to help families across the country. To mark National Autism Awareness Month, we would like to provide some key facts to raise awareness and show our support for children with autism.

When is World Autism Awareness Day?

In addition to National Autism Awareness Month, there is also a World Autism Awareness Day chosen by the United Nations – April 2nd. The day was adopted in 2007 to encourage members of the UN to take action and raise awareness about autism throughout the world. World Autism Awareness Day is one of only seven official health-specific days observed by the UN.

What can an autism service dog do?

Autism Service Dogs are trained to assist a child diagnosed with autism by making their lives safer and more enjoyable. These well-trained, reliable companions can be useful in a variety of situations, including:

• Preventing a child from running away in a public place
• Calming children who become quickly overwhelmed or anxious
• Offering ‘deep pressure therapy’ by placing their body on the child
• Providing an overall sense of comfort and a focal point for the child

A comprehensive training and development regime, combined with a professional in-home transition for the dog and their new family, is the magic combination responsible for creating an autism service dog – an invaluable tool for a child diagnosed with autism.

autism service dog

What are the benefits of an autism assistance dog?

With a fully-trained autism service dog, the lives of children and their families can be transformed. Families welcoming an autism assistance dog into their homes can see numerous advantages:

Increased social interaction. Autism Service Dogs have been proven to heighten social skills and interaction for many children affected by autism.
Improved independence. The child walks with the dog, as opposed to holding the hand of a parent or adult.
Increased vocabulary. Children with autism often have an increase in vocabulary after spending time with their service dog. This is attributed to the child being more comfortable in speaking to the dog – which then benefits the child when interacting with people.
Improved quality of sleep. An Autism Service Dog provides a great deal of comfort and reassurance to a child, improving a child’s ability to relax and sleep at night.

How does Highland Canine Training help children with autism?

Assistance Dogs for Autism, a division of Highland Canine Training LLC, trains a diverse range of service dogs to meet the needs of children and families across the country. We offer a personalized service, including parents and family members in the process from start to finish.

We also aim to contribute to the local community by participating in a number of regular events; for example, every Tuesday, students from our School for Dog Trainers attend a local grade school as part of our Waggy Tales reading program. This enables our service dogs in training to improve their socialization and provides an enjoyable experience for the schoolchildren.

In addition, we also recently attended the Autism Society of North Carolina’s annual conference in Charlotte – the event brings together renowned speakers who discuss topics of interest to all in the autism community. At the beginning of April, we attended AspieCon – a comic book and pop culture event which celebrates the diverse interests of individuals on the autism spectrum.

In Summary

Throughout April, you may see photos of our service dogs in training sporting blue bandanas – part of the ‘Light It Up Blue’ campaign for National Autism Awareness Month.

We are blessed to work with all members of the autism community to raise awareness, whether through our service dog programs or participating in local events. We are truly privileged to be a part of this amazing community!