My name is Joel and I am 10yrs old, I live with my mum, brother Jack and sister Abby. My siblings and I, all have Autism. I enjoy going to school, swimming and watching my Ipad amongst other things. I need a lot of support and assistance from my mum and others, to do everyday task such as having a shower, getting dressed and brushing my teeth, while I’m trying to learn to do these tasks for myself and I’m getting better at it each day.
I know my mum struggles taking us all out in our community as a family as I’m still learning how to cross the road safely and I tend to walk fast and my brother and sister tend to walk slow (slow coaches), leaving my mum feeling anxious and nervous during the outing as its hard to keep an eye on all of us to ensure we are safe. I don’t do this on purpose, I just get caught up in my own thoughts forgetting I need to stay with mum and seem to get lost sometimes and I can’t ask for help as I’m not aware I am lost, and I haven’t quite developed the language yet.
I can point and take my mum’s hand to show her what I want, she is really good at working it out, sometimes she’s quick and sometimes she takes forever, but I guess she knows me well, sometimes she gets it wrong and I feel really frustrated as I don’t know what words I need to use to get my message across and my mum can’t help me with my words as she doesn’t know what I want. I’m trying to learn to talk as I know this will help me feel less frustrated.
I was terrified of dogs, I couldn’t even walk past a dog without being petrified, until I met Sharon and her dog Perfy from Dogs for life, Sharon and Perfy were very patient and gentle with me and worked at my pace, allowing me time to get comfortable with Perfy. Sharon and Perfy would come every week and supported me through the process of becoming comfortable with having Perfy near me.
We have so much fun, Perfy wasn’t scary at all, she was so gentle and helped me learn and feel more confident around dogs, she helped with my language too and I can now say “sit” and “let’s go”, I can take her for a walk and she helps me stop to check for cars before I cross the road. I can feed her a treat from my hand and I’m not scared anymore, I actually like the feeling of her licking my hand, it tickles and makes me laugh.
At this moment, "Bella" a beautiful black Labrador is working with me to increase my skills and help me get ready for my dog Lizzy, once she is trained.
Lizzy, our English Springer Spaniel is my dog who I’m hoping to raise enough money for to be trained as my assistance dog, she is gentle and knows when I need her to be around me, she is a great dog, but needs more training to become an assistance dog, so she can assist me in my development and stay safe in the community.
I know now that having my own assistance dog is just what I need to help me develop and grow and be safe when we go out in our community, as Lizzy will be with me, assisting me with crossing the road safely, walking with my family on outings, calming me down when I feel frustrated and most of all being my friend.
I know I’ve got a long way to go and I will work hard to become an independent person and really believe that Lizzy will assist me to achieve this, Thank for reading my story and hope you can help.