A Bright Future with Belle

IMG_4876Jackie&VictoriaHi res.jpg

For Jackson, a bright young boy with autism that loves to spend time playing outdoors, the world can become an overwhelming place. The sights and sounds of everyday environments such as the grocery store or mall, are amplified to a point where Jackson cannot tolerate them, and he does his best to calm himself by escaping, covering his ears, seeking deep pressure input or drowning out the world with music or his iPad.Jackson has made great progress with therapies and when his mother learned about TLCAD and autism service dogs, she envisioned the future. She envisioned a best friend for her son and a tool for him to self-regulate so he can better navigate the world and those everyday difficult environments.Belle is a service dog trained by inmate trainers in the POOCH program, who focused on preparing her to support individuals with autism. Through TLCAD’s screening process, it was determined that Jackson’s needs were most well-suited to be addressed by Belle’s strength, skills and temperament. With Belle by his side, Jackson, has had many “first moments” of independence. While holding Belle’s handle, Jackson went for his first walk at the beach without holding his mother’s hand to stay safe. He also walked through a grocery store for the first time, instead of riding in the cart covering his ears to drown out all the noise and stimulation.Jackson utilizes Belle for self-regulation through deep-pressure input, helping him to participate and engage in activities with his family, such as shopping and going out to dinner. The future is bright for this service dog team and there are many more moments of independence to come.

Fara Khaleeli