Autism Dog Services Inc. 

What is ADS?
faqsAutism Dog Services Inc. (ADS) is a registered Canadian Charity # 803605955RR0001 established in the Province of Ontario. ADS fosters the integration of children in between the ages of 3 and 18 years of age with autism and related disorders by training, placing and supporting service dogs that offer safety, companionship, and independence. ADS functions with a small staff and key volunteers.  ADS places in between 15-20 service dogs per year.  

How long is the ADS current wait-list for a service dog?
The average waiting time is a minimum of 24 months from time of approval.  

How much does it cost to get an autism service dog?
ADS does not have any fees to receive training or to graduate with a service dog. Normal, on-going costs for a service dog include: dog food, treats, toys, routine veterinary care, grooming and sometimes emergency veterinary treatment. The annual cost of having a service dog at approximately $1000 – $1500/year.
ADS does have a non-refundable $50 application processing fee that is required for submission along with the full application form.

What breeds does ADS use?
ADS receives donations of Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers. Reputable breeders donate the puppies to ADS to support our program.  

What are parent/guardian responsiblities to the service dog?
ADS service dogs are handled by the child’s parent or guardian at home and by an educator at school. The service dogs are trained to respond and follow commands given by the handler.
Parents/guardians are fully responsible for the service dog’s care and maintenance (i.e. maintaining service dog training, health/veterinary care, feeding, grooming and exercise). The handler’s job is to act as a liaison between the child with autism and the service dog. The child is responsible for assisting with tasks relating to the service dog.

How is the service dog identified as a working dog?

A service dog from ADS is identified by the silver and/or red service dog jacket worn while accompanying the child in public settings at all times. The service dog jacket is equipped with a foam handle or short leash for the child to hold. ADS issues “public access identification cards” to all certified service dog teams. The card identifies the service dog and the child it works for.

How can an ADS dog help to keep a child safe?
One of the key roles of ADS service dogs is to provide safety outside of the home, in public settings and at school. The service dog acts as a physical anchor for the child with autism. Some parents choose to utilize a tether made to join the service dog and child. This is connected to the child’s waist, like a belt, and links up to a ring on the dog’s working jacket. ADS trains dogs to respond to the stop command given by the parent or educator. As a result this prevents the child from entering into potentially dangerous situations (i.e. roadways, parking lots, bodies of water, ravines, etc.) and gives the paren much needed time to intervene and direct the child back onto the safer path. The service dog also prevents the child from wandering away from the family while out in public settings. This also allows for parents to teach the child about walking safely and staying with their service dog.
Tethering is an option for smaller children. ADS works directly with parents who are interested in utilizing this option, but most of the children with ADS service dogs find that teaching the child to hold onto the handle connected to the dog’s working jacket is enough to teach children safe road crossings and allows for greater independence.

What type of equipment is used with the child and service dog?
-service dog jacket
-handle or short leash
-tether/belt system (if requested by the parents/guardians)

How does a dog help a child achieve greater independence?
ADS service dogs provide independence for a child with autism by making public outings easier to cope with for both the parent and child. For many parents, this is the first opportunity they have had with their child walking independently of holding onto them. The child is also responsible for assisting with daily care routines with their service dog, such as exercise (i.e. walk with the dog, play fetch with the dog if able or with assistance), grooming and feeding; thus furthering opportunities for independence-making, learning empathy and a sense of responsibility for another.
The service dog accompanies the child and family on all public outings. Public outings with the service dog allow for safety and independence for the child, who may not have been able to participate in family activities in the past. Families may avoid family activities outside the home for fear of compromising the child’s safety, or due to the child’s difficulty in coping with new environments and managing the child’s behavioural outbursts and anxiety in public settings. With the service dog present, many families are able to pursue activities together that they may have found difficult in the past. For example, a family may be able to enjoy restaurant visits with their child, family vacations, or endure longer car trips with the presence of a service dog. The dog acts as a constant companion, always available to the child for stroking and relief from anxiety in public settings.

How does a service dog help modify a child’s behaviour?
ADS service dogs may help modify behaviour in children with autism. Many parents have reported that the service dog provides a calming influence on their children. Children with autism may achieve this by stroking their dog’s fur or relief in having their dog lay close by. This comfort can also allow a child to cope with transitions between places, activities, changes in routines, and may even help to improve sleep patterns. The child is able to get through anxieties that may be associated with daily activities with the help of his or her service dog.

What are some of the community and social benefits to children with service dogs?
ADS service dogs bridge the social gap between children with autism and others. They allow for the development of socialization skills in children with autism by assisting with the integration of children with peers and the public.
Service dogs are protected under Provincial Legislation and have the right to public access in schools. There are many opportunities for increased communication, independence along with the many social and academic benefits of having the service dogs present at school. ADS believes in building an inclusive environment that fosters the growth of communication, social interaction and independence for the student with autism and related disorders. ADS supports and encourages the partnership between the student and service dog to best reach their potential. ADS is firmly committed to furthering the education of both student and school staff in clearly defining the role of an autism service dog in the school community.

Where can I access the provincial service dog laws?

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Ontario Human Rights Code

 Is ADS a recognized provider of service dogs?

Yes, ADS is an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI). ADI is a governing body that establishes and set standards for assistance dog programs world-wide. ADS meets the standards for service dog teams established by ADI.  ADS is also a member of the Canadian Association of Guide & Assistance Dog Schools CAGADS