Article By: The Kennel Club - READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Fleck and his handler help Autism at Kingwood’s clients with a range of day-to-day challenges
Thanks to funding from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, a charitable organisation working with autistic adults are now providing animal-assisted therapy.
Autism at Kingwood, based in Reading, Berkshire, provides support for people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome through a variety of therapy and educational programmes.
In partnership with the charity Dogs for Good, they are now running a new dog therapy programme, exploring the ways that dogs can help people with a wide range of disabilities.
Each client at Kingwood has an individual set of objectives they want to achieve with the help of Fleck and his handler Sarah Tosh-Robb.
As they progress, clients are able to feel more confident and safe in their everyday life, and to live a more independent life in connection with the wider community.
JG is a client who worked with Fleck with specific goals, focusing on social patience and sharing. Thanks to sessions with Fleck, JG is now calmer and understands that other people take turns in having Fleck’s attention.
At the beginning of the programme, JG didn’t want to share treats with Fleck but now loves feeding him, recognising the importance of sharing.
Like other therapy programmes, Fleck and Sarah’s work with clients at Kingwood was made difficult by coronavirus, but they found ways to stay connected and continue their work virtually.
Their support was even more important during the pandemic, which was a period of heightened anxiety for some people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Philippa Stannard, from Autism at Kingwood, said:
“We are very grateful for the support we’ve had from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust which enabled us to offer life-changing support for our clients and help them tackle important issues.
“Thanks to Fleck and Sarah’s work, our clients are safer, more confident and feel more able to interact with the community.
“We are really impressed with what a difference dogs can make for our clients and we are now looking into extending the programme to support others.”
Sarah, the community dog handler at Dogs for Good who works with Fleck, said:
“By working as a team with the community dogs, I love to see how we can make such a difference to the lives of the clients and the joy on their faces when we arrive for each session.
“However small or large the achievements may be for the client, it always amazes me that the positive impact it may have on their lives can be huge!”
Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, Bill King, said:
“While helping others to gain more independence and safety in their life, this project also highlights the amazing and versatile skillset of dogs and how they can help us.
“The Kennel Club Charitable Trust supports a whole range of dedicated projects and organisations, and established an Emergency Relief Fund in April to provide special support for organisations struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.”