Autism Service Dogs

Autism Service Dogs are trained to provide support, companionship, safety, and assurance to human partners and their families.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Autism Service Dogs may increase the human partner’s self-esteem, ability to communicate, and ability to empathize. These dogs may help with sleep disturbances, reduction of anxiety, and sensory regulation.

Aspen Service Dogs is happy to provide a consultation for an Autism Service Dog for families with autistic children 3 years of age and older.

Our daughter Carla was very fortunate to be a recipient of a service dog from Aspen Service Dogs of Edmonton, AB in April 2019. Having the dual diagnosis of autism and epilepsy, Carla requires 24 hour support and needs frequent monitoring to live a safe and full life. With the help of Aspen Service Dog’s Maria Illes, Carla was matched with Zafi, a beautiful black 2-year-old labrador retriever that we believe has significantly enhanced the quality of her life.

With Maria’s guidance and support, Carla was able to undergo a training period enabling her to become the permanent beneficiary of Zafi’s companionship and support. Maria’s facilitation of this partnership also extended to preparing her parents and the staff of the Robin Hood Association (Carla’s supporting agency) for Zafi’s inclusion at Carla’s day and residential programs.

Because Carla insists upon the right to put her own “stamp” on significant happenings in her life, she insisted upon a name change for Zafi who is now known by all as “Ivy Victoria”. “Ivy” because it is a symbol of loyalty and “Victoria” because it is synonymous with victory and overcoming. Carla dearly loves Ivy and is doing her very best to be a responsible and attentive caregiver to her with the help of her support staff.

The benefits of having Ivy team up with Carla have been many including security, comfort, and encouraging independence. Whenever Carla is out and about, everyone stops to say hello to her and asks about her beautiful companion which encourages Carla to develop appropriate conversation and build trust. Ivy has enriched Carla’s life and her loving and friendly manner have endeared Ivy to the wide array of others who contribute to Carla’s well-being. We are deeply grateful to Maria Illes and Maureen MacKay of Aspen Service Dogs for their willingness to take on this adventure with us, to help make Carla’s life a fuller and more enriched one with Ivy at her side.

~ Angela Risdon