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Therapy and Service Dogs Help People with Developmental Disabilities

Everyone loves a good story about an adorable pup helping their human. Dogs can be an incredible resource, especially for people with developmental disabilities. Trained and certified service dogs help people with developmental or intellectual disabilities by looking out for their health and keeping them safe. Some can predict or react to seizures, lead the way for people with visual impairments and so much more. Therapy dogs help in similar ways, but they are trained to provide comfort, affection, and encouragement to people they work with. 

According to Dr. Laura Sorg, the medical director at the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), “Therapists utilizing trained therapy and/or facility dogs can provide high quality care. Studies have shown that therapy dogs can even improve focus and social interaction in children with pervasive developmental disorders.” 

DODD recently visited Triangle Therapy Services and met Sultan IV, a facility dog certified by Canine Companions and trained to work with children with disabilities. Sultan works alongside the children while they participate in therapeutic activities. He provides motivation and encouragement and gives them the confidence to complete their therapy.  

Sultan’s facilitator, Stacey Creech, explained how he does this. “He can do things like being a motivator for children, providing emotional support for children, he can participate and engage in activities with them, taking turns with them, pushing buttons on musical toys, pulling kids on scooter boards...anything that will motivate the child to participate in their session.” 

Working with a therapy or service dog may be a good option for you or your family member. Talk to your county board or planning team to learn more about working with these fluffy companions.