APDT Conference: Day 4.2

Nearly finished, only a few more sessions to go. Next on the schedule was a session with Dr Aubrey Fine who works with children and uses dogs in therapy. His session, which I found quite interesting to learn about attention disorders in children, was “Understanding and Working with Child Learning and Attention Disorders”.

I think we all know of the benefits of dogs and with my work with assistance dogs I have seen it first hand. ADA has been using dogs helping kids with reading difficulties for a few years now and it has been with great success. Some of the things Aubrey touched on form the basis for the reading program. Primarily, all children are children first and if children can’t learn the way we teach, perhaps we should teach the way they learn. Dogs are great at this because they do not judge and are more accepting of individual idiosyncrasies. Labels are for jars, not people.

Aubrey then went on to explain ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Disorders, which is an order of self-regulation – I don’t stop and think. Here are a few slides on ADHD:

A few more facts – not every child with ADHD is the same; ADHD remains throughout adult life in about 75% of cases; children with ADHD are often socially and emotionally younger than their age (about three years).

Aubrey has the child working with the dog, teaching obedience and learning the social skills as shown in the slides. It is important to watch for over-stimulation and manage excitement and impulsivity.

Here are further slides related to autism – autism spectrum disorder

ASD is a lifelong disorder but people can learn to overcome. Dog training provides a second leash on life. Regarding the leashing of the dog to the child, Aubrey mentioned that in many cases running away was reduced greatly in about three months.

Summing up, Aubrey’s final thoughts were that it is all about companionship.