Good Dog! Autism Companions provides trained service dogs for children and families living with autism. Our goal is to bring the benefits of the human/canine relationship to those affected so that they can experience a higher quality of life. Companion service dogs create a social bridge for children to connect with the world. They also transform the social environment for autism families within in their local communities and when out in greater public places.
We are a 501(c)(3) non profit organization. As our mission states: We believe all children and families living with autism deserve to be accepted and connected in our world -- and Good Dogs can facilitate this for them. We truly live this mission and enjoy sharing it with the world.
Our Co-founders, Rick and Laura Sylvester's story : In 2002, our son, Elliot was diagnosed with autism. Since that time, we've tried just about every prescribed remedy to help alleviate his symptoms. Our breakthrough came when we learned the power of personal connection through acceptance -- you know, that thing that dogs do naturally and unconditionally. As lifelong dog lovers, we decided to get Elliot an autism service companion. When his dog, Orbit, came home it changed our lives. Not only did Orbit help mediate Elliot's disability, but when together as a team in public Elliot and Orbit positively changed the environment wherever we went. Both of these things are really big deals for a family living with autism -- game changers. So big that we were inspired to start a non-profit organization to help other families like ours.
The results we are seeing for children and families with their Good Dogs is spectacular. Studies have shown that autism service dogs in the home reduce stress hormone levels in children with autism. Parents are reporting many other benefits of these faithful, hard-working companions as well. Here are more of the life-enhancing experiences that can be attributed to owning a companion dog: calming, social, communication, companionship, independence, and quality of life.
How is an autism service dog different from other service dogs?
Most people are familiar with the concept of the service dog through their experience seeing those with physical disabilities where a working dog can provide help with mobility and/or vision. An autism service dog is utilized to mediate the disability by acting as a social bridge, providing sensory input, aiding in redirecting and focusing, as well as offering unconditional love with constant companionship. Autism Service dogs have also been referred to as SsigDogs, which stands for Social and Sensory Signaling Dogs.
Since Good Dog! Autism Companions is a non-profit organization, we rely on charitable giving to support our cause. We ask all families who get approved for a Good Dog! to fund raise half the costs of their program in their local spheres. This has created an amazing outpouring of support for our Good Dog! families. It's reconnecting them with their communities in a very special way -- we could not be happier that we have ignited this spirit of giving in so many places.