Autism Service Dogs, Leash-On-Life

Autism Service Dogs

"Theirs a relationship like no other, since Mully is always ready to serve. The two of them define synchronicity. The promise was there in Wesley. It was Mully who drew it out."
- Claudia, Wesley's mother

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. TLCAD’s Leash-On-Life program addresses the rising prevalence and unique needs of individuals with autism by training and placing custom service dogs with individuals with autism and their families in San Diego County. Our service dogs assist with the challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum by performing cues and behaviors that increase safety, social, communication, and adaptive skills, lending to increased independence and quality of life. The result is powerful and transforms autism Service Dog recipients and their entire family unit.

TLCAD Leash-On-Life service dogs address the following functional domains affected by autism:

Safety skills are increased by:

  • Tethering child to the dog to prevent elopement – darting into traffic
  • Training the dog to track and locate child – after escaping from the house

Social skills are facilitated and increased by:

  • The dog serving as a social catalyst to allow for social opportunities and interactions with peers. Giving permission when someone asks, “Can I pet your dog?”

Communication skills are increased by:

  • The dog serving a motivator to evoke language. Giving the dog cues that empowers the individual when the dog actual obeys the cue!

Adaptive skills are developed by:

  • The child taking responsibility for caring for the dog – feeding, grooming, dressing with vest and leash.
  • Teaching the child to appropriate play and interact with the dog, increasing their leisure repertoire. Games with balls, putting items away. Laundry in basket.

Sensory Integration Processing Disorder/ sensory needs are addressed by:

  • Having the dog provide deep pressure (e.g., laying side by side or on top of the child) Playing the game ‘squish’ - to calm them down.
  • Utilizing the service dog for tactile input – Grooming, petting.

Learn more about our autism service dogs.

TLCAD matches service dogs with qualified applicants in San Diego County based on the strengths and skills of the dog and the needs of the applicant.

To see how our Leash-On-Life service dogs impact the lives of individuals with autism, please see the story of Garrett and Ruby: