Category Archives: Asperger’s

Wounded Warrior Jimmy, and Dachshund, “Sweetie”.

From our trainer, Jackie, who is working with Wounded Warrior Jimmy, and their Dachshund, “Sweetie”. Jimmy suffers from Asperger’s, Hearing Loss, and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. The first session was an initial evaluation of the family and Sweetie. They reviewed all required training aids, how to get the vest and ID, went over the training manual in detail, and discussed Jimmy’s special needs. Jackie also watched how Jimmy and Sweetie interacted and how strong their bond was. Jimmy trained Sweetie to “sit” easily. They also did interaction with other dogs – initially, Sweetie did some protective barking, but Jackie explained to them how to approach new dogs – and after about 15 minutes, Sweetie was socializing perfectly!

They are going to work on Sweetie’s “sit/stay” and keep on having her socialize with other dogs in a calm and positive way. They will also be working on “heeling” without any pulling, loading and unloading. They will keep reviewing the manual, and will be working with Sweetie 30 minutes twice a day.

Veronica and Isaiah and their SDIT, “Shaggy!”

From our excellent trainer, Beverli, who is working with Veronica and her son, Isaiah, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, and their SDIT, “Shaggy!” This was their second training session.
Beverli writes:

“We had our second training session today at Lowe’s. We specifically trained Shaggy’s now quick response to “sit, stay, down” from a walking position. We also worked on extended “down/stay” and “sit/stay” for 6ft+ (I like to challenge the team to do beyond what is necessary for the test). Shaggy’s heeling has made great improvement, as well as his “leave it”.

We also addressed other Service Dog tasks, such as calming Isaiah when he gets overstimulated in public, using the command “check your boy” when he started to get overwhelmed.

Areas that need to be addressed are mother Veronica’s ability to be Shaggy’s leader. She is very soft-spoken, so we will continue to work on it.

Other homework that was given for the next session was: “Stay” while out of sight, “sit while on a walk at random”, and “down on walk, at random”.

Assistance in the Rio Grande Valley and more

This is a message from our exceptionally brilliant and compassionate trainer, Jacqueline (Jackie). Her life’s passion is to help Veterans, and she asked us to post this for all Veterans, especially in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), if they need help.

I have been a graduate psychologist at the VA down here in the RGV. After working in 3 different VA health care systems, I have seen the great need for Veteran care and have seen both good (actually excellent) and bad ways VAs are run and treatment is provided. It is with an EXTREMELY saddened heart that I can no longer allow myself to provide a lower level of care to Veterans than what they deserve, nor be forced into functioning in a treatment setting that is providing unethical care.

I LOVE my work with Veterans and see such a huge need for this to continue, but as I leave, I also see several other amazing psychologists leaving as well due to the same challenges. I continue to see a need for Behavioral Health Care in the Rio Grande Valley, with Veterans and Civilians alike. After 11 years of schooling and 7 years providing Behavioral Health (BH) Services, I was completing my licensure requirements as a psychologist to provide the highest and most comprehensive options out there, however, despite the need for services in the RGV, I ran into several dead ends for finishing this last piece. However, I am willing to put my own final step on hold to help two communities (Veterans and anyone in the RGV) in need of BH services.

I hold a Masters Level License in the State of Texas that allows me to practice independently (but with some restrictions from what I would have had with my psychologist license and obviously at about 1/3-1/4 of the pay). I am hoping to make some things come together over the next month or two (and will probably be open to picking up random general labor work as my student loans have gone into effect and I incurred debt moving from Idaho to here), but am hoping to offer TeleHealth (similar to Skyping but in a much more secure system) and/or in home therapy/animal assisted-therapy services here in the RGV at hopefully a fraction of the cost of some other places (most likely on an income based sliding scale fee basis) since I will not be accepting insurance and I am wanting to reach a larger population of those in need.

That being said, minus the in-home piece, I am able to offer this TeleHealth service within the scope of my practice anywhere in the state of Texas. I am most wanting to reach Veterans as I know for many, wait times between treatment sessions is 2-3 months in several facilities throughout the state. However, I am also really wanting to service Civilians in the RGV and throughout Texas. I am NOT bilingual unfortunately, but have a considerable amount of understanding of the RGV culture, the Hispanic Culture, and the Texas Hispanic Culture.

For those of you who may know of people who may be able to benefit from this, please feel free to contact me. I will gladly share my extensive training and treatment experience with anyone who requests this, and am hoping to start this as an option for the community within the next two months.

Please contact me at: Jacqueline Kappelman

Alissa and her SD Greta

Another TREMENDOUS training session with dear 24 year-old Alissa, and her SD, Greta!!! Despite all the physical problems Alissa has been going through, Greta is right by her side, comforting her, and conducting herself PERFECTLY in public. Having mom April as a trainer herself doesn’t hurt, but she is smartly determined to give Alissa all the confidence she needs and deserves to show Alissa that she can go out into the world with SD Greta and do a wonderful, amazing job, bringing joy to others and setting a wonderful example of courage and strength. I am SO proud of Alissa and all the work she does with Greta!! This session, we took her to the “dreaded” super HEB at the busiest time possible!! Alissa did it – and was magnificent. So was Greta. We practiced all basic commands in the store – sit/stay, down/stay, several meet and greets – which Alissa is getting more and more comfortable with, perfect heel with and without leash, watch me, leave it, load and unload – it’s like they are tied together by an invisible “love” bond. Greta is not phased by any distractions I tried to create, and the ONLY thing we need to work on is that at home, when Alissa is feeling ill, it comforts her when big Greta gently wraps her front arms and paws around Alissa. The hugs make her feel wonderful. When we are doing meet and greets, Greta, who loves everyone (but Alissa the most), will do a gentle meet and greet and take treats gently, but as people (mostly children) want to keep petting her, she does a little “bunny hop” because she wants to wrap her arms around them, too. So that is what we will be working on. It’s a tricky one – because we want Greta to continue doing it with Alissa – but not to anyone else. So, teaching her where and when it’s appropriate without dampening her enthusiasm at home is a thinker.On a side note, you’ll notice a woman in a wheelchair in the picture to the right. When this woman first saw Greta, Greta instantly went up to her and laid her head on this woman’s chest. The woman started crying, and petting gentle Greta. We asked her if she was OK – and it turns out, this woman had literally been diagnosed with lung cancer at the very spot where Greta laid her head. She just cradled Greta’s head and neck in her arms and cried. It was literally something out of a storybook. Greta instinctively knew where this woman was hurting, and brought so much happiness so this woman who said that just meeting Greta brought her out of her despair for several wonderful moments.

That’s what it’s all about. Service Dogs. The intangible “knowing”. The healing power of animals and humans.



Another wonderful update from Candace, our trainer in Dallas:

dyslexia“Sunday, we had our first group class with LaCretia and her SDIT Boomer and the Kelli and her family and SDIT Buddy. Kelly’s son is a ten year-old with Asperger’s, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, auditory processing disorder and mild hearing loss. LaCretia has adrenal failure, and needs Boomer to learn to alert to her cortisone levels.

It was a great success! We spent the first hour getting to know one another and working commands. I set up flags for “Command Stations” and we practiced each command for about a minute and a half. Then, we moved on and practiced walking next to a moderately busy road. After that, we worked on the command “Under” with dysgraphiapicnic tables and benches. The second hour we spent in the mall, just walking and getting the dogs public exposure. They did really fantastic! We walked around the mall and in several stores – one of which was filled with children. We still have some kinks to work out, but all in all, we have some pretty spectacular and hard working families!”