Our family has seven children from 1 year old to 13 years old. Two of these children have Autism spectrum disorders and Epilepsy. This dog is specifically to work with our younger daughter. But by giving the older daughter a specific task (grooming), we are training her in a marketable job skill, allowing her to learn to train the dog, and giving her the opportunity to work with an animal that loves her unconditionally. This is vital, as the stresses of the day build up and dogs help release that tension without having to be verbally communicated to!
Many service dog organizations would not place a highly trained service dog with our family due to our large number of children and the degree of disabilities in our family. The dogs most organizations place have been taught 40 or 50 skills, several of them would go to waste on our physically typical children with developmental disabilities. North Star is unique in that they have worked with us to provide a dog that will be both a service dog to our 8 year old, but will also be tolerant of the other children.
The folks at North Star work long and hard to ensure that the special needs of each particular family are met. They talked us through raising funds (which was MUCH easier than I had expected!) what to expect during the process, how to prepare for the arrival and training of the dog. They provide a trainer to work with each family. This is an integral part of the service North Star provides. They take into consideration the specific needs of each child, place the right temperament puppy with the family and then train the dog towards those needs. For example, our family has many small children. The right dog for us needed to be extremely docile, but able to handle a lot of attention. One of my child's special talents is throwing things, so they have made sure to provide us with a dog that likes to play fetch. She is in need of a dog that will patiently weather the sometimes loud tantrums. The trainer works with each family (and child) to see that the dog gets the specialized training that it needs.
North Star Foundation understands children with special needs. We are blessed that they understand the kinds of things that will help children with Autism as they struggle through the complexities of growing up with social and communication difficulties. They train their dogs to be a sort of a 'golden bridge' to society.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
The service dog provided by North Star is a God-send! This child will be able to work towards independence. She will be able to weather the storms of life with a faithful companion. Being looked at as different, children with Autism face challenges that others do not when in public. The world is a scary, confusing place. Her dog will be her constant rock, her comforter, the one that loves her no matter what her quirks. She will be able to connect with society when folks ask her about her dog.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Increase donations to this organization! I think the more donations to North Star Foundations, the more children they can help. They could use more hands - there is always something more that needs to be done!
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Independence and confidence for my children with Autism. Life skills, work ethic, communication and social abilities.
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