TESTIMONY BY CALEB & AUTISM SERVICE DOG CORY
Team Sponsor: Kitz4Kids
Caleb is a triplet; one of three identical 7-year-old boys who only weighed a pound and a half each when they were born.
His brothers, Kaeden and Kaius came home from the NICU after 6 months, but Caleb came home after a year. His eventful journey into the world has meant that he has a global developmental delay and hearing loss. He is non-verbal and had been tube-fed up until a year and a half ago. All three boys have been diagnosed with autism.
Autism Service Dog Cory joined our “pack” in mid-April and has proven to be everything we had hoped for. We wanted Cory to help keep Caleb safe, so he would not bolt or suddenly attempt to cross the street. The first time Caleb was tethered to Cory, he didn’t even attempt to leave her side. This significant change in behaviour now allows us to go for a walk or to the mall as a family without constant fear for Caleb’s safety.
Not only has Cory given us more independence when we are in the community, but she has given Caleb a taste of the freedom that we know he desires. When he is tethered to her, he skips alongside her, but stays close and follows Cory’s lead when it’s time to stop or carry on.
One challenge that many parents of kids with autism face is reduced opportunities for social interaction. Since Cory, Caleb has started to interact with his brothers, taking their hand and engaging them in play. Cory will be joining Caleb at his school in November and we anticipate Cory acting as an icebreaker with Caleb and his peers so that Caleb is less isolated.
Cory has also been a benefit to Kaeden and Kaius in ways that we hadn’t expected. Morning transitions are a challenge for them and can result in prolonged tantrums as they are slowly trying to adjust from sleeping to waking. Cory lays across their legs on the couch when they wake up, applying deep pressure, which has a calming effect on the boys.
We have to commend the BC & Alberta Guide Dogs organization on their commitment to quality instruction, and for maintaining the high standards necessary to raise a Service Dog from puppy-hood to graduation. This has provided families like mine with the independence, safety, security and comfort that comes with having a professionally-trained Service Dog.
Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers who have been a part of Cory’s training, and for the fundraising efforts of people like you. Thank you for the gift of Cory.