Laurie had her first session with adorable 4 year-old Alex, who has autism, and his gentle SDIT, “Will”. Alex lives with such a loving family. They have been through so much financially but they keep the faith and Alex’s mom, Brandie, makes sure that Alex gets the best OT and PT and other therapies he needs to try and develop his full potential.
The family has had Will for a while now – rescued from a shelter – and Will is very accustomed to Alex’s behaviors. Alex’s mother, Brandie, said that Alex’s meltdowns can be very severe, but Will is used to them and tries to nudge or lick him when this is happening. When I arrived, I found a very well-trained dog in Will, who could “sit”, “down”, “sit/stay”, “down/stay”, “come”, and “heel” extremely well. Alex had just woken up from a nap when I arrived, and he was such a sweet, shy child! Since this was the first time we met, I wanted it to be a positive experience, so I played hide and seek under the kitchen table with Alex, calling Will over and giving Will treats when he continued to stay. I eventually got Alex done with playing hide and seek, and said, “Let’s play hide and seek with Will!” So Alex came over, and I put Will in a sit, and I coaxed Alex to pet Will, play with his ears, say his name, and say “I love you Will”. Then Will would go to his favorite hiding place near the couch, so I brought Alex by the hand, all the while saying silly things to him about Will, and when he saw Will, I called Will and he came out. So it was like playing hide and seek with the dog! Each time I lured Will out, I clapped my hands and had Alex pet Will and say things like “Good dog, Will” and “Your my best friend, Will”. Will seemed to love the attention, and Alex was definitely engaging in interaction.
Then, Alex, Brandie, Will and I went on a short walk outside, and I held the leash and gave the end part to Alex. Will stayed in a perfect “heel”, and I showed Alex how good he was doing and we would stop, have Will sit, have Alex give Will a treat, and say “Good Will”. The walk was nice and sweet. When we got back inside, I encouraged Alex to give Will hugs, and talk to him as much as he could to praise him.
The goal is to encourage the bond between Alex and Will, and to have Alex have as much body contact with Will so that eventually, when Alex starts to go into a meltdown, he will feel more inclined with Brandie’s help to seek out Will to apply deep pressure therapy.