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Has anyone got experience of adding a dog to the family if your DC has ASD?

(9 Posts)
DepthsUnknown Sun 16-Apr-17 11:53:34

I have a longer thread on here about DD(8)'s issues - very strongly suspect she has ASD but is high functioning.

DD really struggles with friendships and relationships within our family. I know she's very lonely. She adores animals and is desperate for a dog. We have cats but they are particularly attached to me and aloof with everyone else so DD doesn't really get any companionship from them.

Now both DDs are a little older, I'm seriously considering getting a dog. DP, whilst initially in favour, feels that DDs issues are too severe right now for us to consider it and we need to focus on getting her help. I think that her having a dog (with our supervision and support obviously) might make a meaningful impact on DD and that we might never do it if we were waiting for the perfect time. She does melt down quite a lot though so I'm wary that this might upset a dog and we'd obviously have to be very careful about getting the right one for us. Another part of me thinks life is totally crap a lot of the time so it might be quite nice to have a dog and go on walks, get involved in dog training and making friends in the local dog community (there are regular meet ups locally). It's selfish, I know, but part of me just wants to do something for me for a change. Having said that, I want to be responsible abd make the right decision for all of us including a potential dog.

Has anyone got experience of getting a dog if their DC has ASD? What was your experience like and is there anything I need to think about in addition to the usual dog ownership considerations? Has it helped your DC (or you) in any way?

Tainbri Mon 17-Apr-17 13:50:30

Have you been in touch with supportdogs.org.uk? Very helpful with autism specific advice re dogs. Our dc finds his dog a total lifeline if I'm honest but it's a massive decision if you're not a "doggy" family. A friends ASD child has an absolute irrational fear of dogs, so not for everyone.

tabulahrasa Mon 17-Apr-17 14:01:59

DS pretty much moved into his room when we got the current dog (he was a teenager, so not as much of an issue, lol) he couldn't cope at all with all the biting puppies do.

Now it's an adult dog, they rub along ok, but DS can't seem to grasp how to interact with the dog in a way they dog enjoys, he still (the dog is 4) tries to hug the dog even though that isn't something the dog is keen on and other issues like that.

The dog finds DS unpredictable and of course with him doing things like trying to hug him when he doesn't like it, he's a bit wary of DS tbh.

It's not a huge issue, but, they don't really get much benefit from spending time together.

Popalina Mon 17-Apr-17 18:22:10

I think there is also an organisation called PAWS4autism.com that recommends dogs for autistic children. My DD is only just turned 3 and has a diagnosis so I am at the early stages of working it all out but from what I have read so far, parents seem to generally recommend a pet for ASD kids when they near the teens. However, it's not for everyone and as the poster above says, it didn't really work for them.

It might be brilliant for you though if your DD is really keen. I used to have a horse and when he died I swore I wasn't going to get another pet but I can see that changing now! It's the holiday cover and that sort of thing that you need to have in place before you take the plunge. And the cost too!

TheBoyWhoWouldntHoeCorn Tue 18-Apr-17 14:57:47

We adopted an ex racing greyhound a few months ago (he is 2), and are smitten with him! He makes us all laugh so much and has such a lovely nature

DS3 (5) has ASD/PDA

DDog is very calm and gentle around the DCs. And they know not to go near or disturb him ever when he's eating/sleeping/on his bed-this was something I reiterated again and again in the early days even though they didn't go near him at those times, as i didn't want DDog stressed or snapping because he hadn't had his need for space and rest respected. DS3 was really nervous of DDog to begin with but has realised with time that DDog is a big softie and is fine and affectionate with him now

DDog has been brilliant for me, walking him is my sanity time and gives me space to think clearly, and I feel calmer since we've had him. I didn't anticipate quite how much I would love him! It was really stressful to begin with in the early weeks and it is sometimes hard work having to look after DDog on top of everything else to do but he brings us so much joy, and now he's settled here it's much easier

DepthsUnknown Tue 18-Apr-17 16:42:03

Thank you everyone for your replies. It's good to hear that it's been a positive experience for most.

I've had a look at some of the organisations mentioned and unfortunately their waiting lists are closed due to high demand. I think you also have to have a statement from a professional that an assistance dog is required. We don't have a diagnosis so wouldn't be able to apply. Just reading their literature on why dog companionship is so helpful for those with ASD has been good though.

I've been looking at dogs advertised by rehoming shelters for a while and had settled on a whippet or small lurcher. However, I came across a gorgeous little 10 year old jack Russell terrier (slightly different from jack Russells) who just sounds perfect for us and decided to apply just in case. I've spoken to his foster carer and she said she was hoping he'd be adopted by a family as he's just such a great dog.

I'm now waiting on having a home inspection by the shelter. That's been a positive of its own as I'm now doing all those annoying jobs that I've been putting off for ever, de-cluttering and general home improvements. Basically it's been a nice kick up the bum grin

We still might not be approved of course but fingers crossed.

beautifulgirls Wed 19-Apr-17 21:44:20

It is positive for many from what I hear but make sure your DD is good with the dog before you go ahead. We had an old dog when DD (who has ASD) was born who sadly passed away when DD was 4yrs. We waited for a year as I had a young baby and then finally got a puppy of the same breed we had had before. Much to my surprise DD was completely freaked out by the puppy. She could not cope with a more lively dog as our old girl had been very calm and passive in comparrison. As DD has become older she learned to tolerate our dog and we now live in harmony but it was hard for us all for a while to help her adapt and once the puppy came we felt an obligation to the pup too to make it work if we possibly could. DD is not a fan of dogs unless she has spent time getting to know them and will avoid any dog when out. Much as I am a dog fan I wouldn't get another dog in the future without a lot of thought and ensuring DD is involved in choice and meets the dog first, avoid a puppy most likely etc.

fairgame84 Wed 19-Apr-17 21:54:08

We got a GSD when DS was 11 after years of thinking about it. He has struggled to cope with her because she's big and a bit boisterous. She has calmed down a lot in the past few months and he will interact with her more now whereas before he would just ignore her.
DS is hypersensitive with smell and has struggled with doggy smells but again he has got used to it.
Ddog has probably had more of a positive impact on me and DP than DS. It's lovely to have her snuggling up to us on the sofa and taking her for walks.
DS would probably prefer to have MILs little daschund as he's much more manageable for DS because he is small.

Overall it was worth getting Ddog and maybe if we had got her when DS was younger it would have had a more positive impact. They have learnt to tolerate each other now though.

tabulahrasa Wed 19-Apr-17 23:00:34

An older dog is a better idea IMO as it was definitely the puppy stage that threw my DS.

In fairness, I have a dog because I want a dog, it would have been nice if DS got something from it, but it wasn't really a factor in me having a dog.

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