So, a few weeks ago marked the end of another school year helping out the kids afflicted with autism spectrum disorder. We think we did a lot of good stuff and so saw major progress. In retrospect, probably more progress than last year but we are sure it’s a cumulative thing. Part of what goes on with these kids is that they like consistency in their lives and the fact that we are a regular part of their schedule makes them more comfortable. The students know we are part of their routines and they love when we come into the rooms.
Brandy says: In the past, I spoke of two kids who I work with who were so afraid they would barely touch me and would often flinch away. By the end of this year, both would take me for walks and would pet me on several parts of my body–from the head down my back. They would also look at me and talk to me. This was a very dramatic and uplifting turn of events. With both of our classes, the kids had pictograph cards with multiple words or phrases. By the end of the year, the kids had their “favorite” commands they would like to do with me, but, generally, by the end of they year, all could read and/or respond to the words and pictures on the cards. With the more advance kids, we were able to do multiple word exercises like: “WALK” “SIT” “SHAKE” “UP” and walk back around the room. It was fun to do a variety of tasks at one time and the kids really liked doing this. It was more interesting to them than only doing one word commands.
Val says: My kids are younger than the ones that Brandy works with so we like to play games that have to do with colors and numbers. The cup game, where we hide food under a colored cup and then I get to “find” it by flipping the cup over with my nose is very popular. The kids really think it’s funny when I find the treat. One of the favorite activities, though, continues to be when they get to walk the hallways with me. I think they feel important and empowered that they get to walk around the building with me and no one else gets to do that. Also, people in the hall give us attention and we all like that!
We look forward to see where we are headed next year. We have asked the teachers to come up with some expanded activities based on all we’ve accomplished this year. Happy Summer!
Brandy and Val’s mission is to enrich the lives of others through their pet therapy duties and through the sales of their books and toys. They hope to help the families, as well as the children, they work with and sales from their products benefit animal sanctuaries throughout the U.S. To learn more about these special dogs, visit their website, Brandy and Val, LLC.