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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Autism Service Dogs



Trained service dogs can be great help to autistic kids By Richard Robbins
TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Despite initial skepticism, Becky Pekar now believes her son, Alex, is getting a tremendous boost by having a trained service dog constantly at his side.

Alex, 11, has autism, a developmental disorder that affects 1 in 110 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pekar of Youngwood said Alex is "a bolter in public." He once disappeared from her side and was discovered in a nearby cornfield. Such behavior can characterize autistic children who typically have a difficult time with social interactions and connections.

Bella, a German shepherd service dog, moved in with the Pekar family in November.

The 5-month-old dog has already made a difference, Pekar said. With special training, Bella is learning how to track Alex down in case he wanders off.

Since Bella's arrival, Alex has started to come out of his shell. Among other things, he's eager to talk about the dog, Pekar said. In the past, he didn't want to be bothered with people.

Pekar, a nursing professional who specializes in blood draws for special-needs children, founded Wineman Farm Outreach of Youngwood, an autism service center, several years ago.




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