Service dog being petted.
Lauren's headshot


May 19, 2022

4 mins read

Southwestern Ontario

Paw-sitive impacts for children with autism

Energizing Life recipient Autism Dog Services trains and places service dogs with families and their child with autism for immediate support.

Ryan doesn’t go anywhere without his four-legged friend, Lukey. After waiting for over 3 years to take Lukey home, the Gaull family is confident knowing Ryan has a trained service dog keeping him safe and always supported.

Ryan was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is usually diagnosed early in a child’s life, based on communicative and development milestones, that can present obstacles during one’s imperative childhood years. *In Canada, an estimated 1 of every 66 youth are diagnosed with ASD. Symptoms include repetitive behaviours, cognitive impairments and delayed language or communication skills. Individuals diagnosed often have low self-esteem, feel isolated and frustrated by symptoms that can affect their school, work or home life.

However, they’re not defined by the disorder, and with a matched service dog, Ontario youth with autism can receive the help they need, offering safety, companionship and independence for themselves and their families.

Service dog going for a walk.

It takes approximately

2-4 years

for a family to receive a service dog after applying, due to a large wait list and minimal resources.

Autism Dog Services is an organization servicing southwestern and other parts of southern Ontario families who are looking to apply for a service dog that has trained specifically to support youth on the spectrum throughout everyday life and challenges and emotions. Service dogs start training at 8 weeks old and after approximately 2 years, they graduate and are placed with a family who is on their waitlist.

While it’s tempting to approach and pet every dog we see, service dogs and those currently in training require specific actions. It’s important to know what to do when in the presence of a service dog and their handler.

10 service dog etiquette rules to know:

  1. Speak to the owner or handler, not directly to the dog
  2. Do not touch or distract the dog without permission
  3. Keep your own dog at a good distance from working dogs
  4. Give service dogs the right-of-way
  5. Do not offer a service dog food
  6. Do not assume a sleeping service dog is off duty
  7. Seek out the owner or handler if the service dog approaches you
  8. Treat owners and handlers with respect
  9. Don’t feel bad for service dogs
  10. Know the laws surrounding service dogs
Learn More

As an Energizing Life Community Fund recipient, Autism Dog Services is receiving funding from Hydro One to match more dogs with families in need. Watch the video to meet Ryan, his dog Lukey, and learn how imperative service dogs are to supporting youth by providing comfort during a crisis and helping them find independence along the way.

Watch the video on Autism Dog Services *Statistics cited from the Government of Canada – Autism Prevalence among Children and Youth in Canada

Autism Dog Services

519.722.2685 |