SUCCESS STORY: Damohn & Autism Support Dog Elly

SUCCESS STORY: Damohn & Autism Support Dog Elly

Apprentice Autism Support Dog Instructor, Nicola and Elly

Like many other autistic kids, Damohn had a very normal early development till he turned 1.5 years old. Then he suddenly regressed. He could not walk or talk anymore. Damohn got diagnosed at age 2.5. After hours of different therapies, he slowly learned to walk again. He still walks very slowly and always on his tiptoes. His communication skills never improved though. He vocalizes all the time, but they are mostly sounds, sometimes even words but not functional.

Damohn loves his daily walks, he watches tall trees and touches leaves and verbalizes his joys with loud sounds to express happiness. To other people though, the loud sounds translate as loud screams that interrupts their quiet afternoon. People would stare at us, younger people sometimes even laughed; sometimes we received very ignorant comments.  As you can imagine, this made the walk very uncomfortable.

For the past 2 months that Elly has stayed with us, things have changed. Now I am looking forward to our long walks together. We’ve never had any mean comments since Elly joined us. I can think of a few reasons.

  • Elly wears a jacket with a sign that shows she is a guide dog. This gives people an idea about the reason of Damohn’s behaviour
  • Elly is such a well behaved and beautiful dog, with very calm eyes that your first reaction can be anything but mean
  • Damohn is not as loud around Elly when we go for walk. The belt around his waist provides sensory pressure that he likes, but would not wear if Elly was not attached to it. He thinks that he is the one who is helping Elly to walk. We have told him that he is Elly’s big brother and Elly can not walk by herself.

Damohn also suffers from very severe sleep disorder. He takes lots of medication just to be able to sleep and his brain feels foggy in the morning because of the medication. In the morning he usually wakes up very upset and screaming. Elly goes and gets her baby (Elly’s stuffed animal), and dances around Damohn’s bed. She walks around his bed waging her tail and offering Damohn the toy. Eventually Damohn laughs and Elly looks at me like she is telling me, ‘there, did your job for you’J I love watching her doing her little dance everyday.

I know I am supposed to say how helpful Elly has been with Damohn, but to be honest; I think her biggest effect has been on me. When Damohn screams and Elly approaches her calmly, I feel like I can do this too. I am much happier when she is around and I think it makes me a better mom for Damohn.

I also would like to thank Nic and Laura. They are very passionate, knowledgeable, and kind people.  I look forward to seeing them again in a month or so.

– Damohn’s family