Dogs For Autism

Published on 13 December 2020 at 19:30

Marcus and Daisy - even Superman needs help shopping sometimes!

“Luna is a loyal, non judgmental and responsive bundle of tail wagging joy- the definition of a positive companion and true friend. Zana has multiple disabilities which mean that she struggles to make connections and communicate. Since Luna has entered our lives Zana dances with delight when she is told Luna is coming to visit.

But I think Zana has already said all we needed to know as only a few weeks ago she said her second ever proper word - and that was “Luna”.”

Poppy helping Elizabeth at school

“Thanks to Poppy’s healing ability my daughter has just been put on roll at a school for the first time in 4 years! This has only been achieved because of Poppy and her ability to calm my daughter and support her so thank you.”

milk time!

Thank you to Jan Kiley for sharing this information regarding this wonderful organisation with us.


Dogs for Autism is the first charity in the UK to specailse and provide dogs to autistic people of any age, anywhere in the UK, at no cost to families. 


How they began

The driving force behind Dogs for Autism, CEO and Founder of the charity, Hilary Armour, is an autism Mum who owner trained an assistance dog for her son after being unable to access an assistance dog through any of the existing charities; this was the catalyst for Dogs for Autism.  She is a qualified dog trainer, animal behaviourist and special needs teacher, who specialised in teaching autistic students with additional learning disabilities. Hilary’s background gives her a unique knowledge of the challenges that autism can cause to the whole family and the way that a dog can be trained to mitigate any negative effects. 


How the charity works

All the Dogs for Autism trainers, in addition to their positive, reward based dog training qualifications, have undergone autism training from the National Autistic Society. Their work is bespoke to each autistic person as their needs are very different, and they support across the spectrum, from the non-verbal with complex learning difficulties, to high achieving university students.


The trainee assistance dogs live as part of their trainer’s family for the first eighteen months to two years of training; during this time the trainer and dog visit the family weekly, creating a bond between the autistic person and the dog and gradually integrating the dog into family life, before the dog is ready to live with their partner full time.  This enables strong relationships to build over time and the autistic person to see the benefits of their dog from the start of the process.


With each Autism Assistance dog the charity aims to:

  • Improve communication skills and motivate speech and language efforts
  • De-escalate anxieties and calm difficult behaviours
  • Encourage social engagement by keeping autistic children and adults safe in public places and enabling families to access the outside world.
  • In some cases, their Autism Assistance Dogs will enable young people to attend school or university again.


Current challenges

The Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for the autistic community; autistic people struggle with change, and the lack of control over what is happening in the world, coupled with such a dramatic change in routine, is causing major stress for those with autism. The charity has seen a 38% increase in enquiries about their Autism Assistance dogs in the seven months since the start of the pandemic, compared to the previous seven months, but without more funding are limited in how many dogs they can provide.


“If I didn't have Lilly, this lockdown would've been a nightmare and any aspiration I have at the moment for doing my uni work, or anything similar to that, would be non-existent.” (Zac)


“I just wanted to say Willow has been doing a great job of looking after Rosie during these uncertain times, in fact I think she is looking after us all.” (Rosie’s Mum)


Dogs for Autism dogs open up lives for autistic people and their families. They enable people to leave their home. They help relationships to form. They help with communication. They keep people safe.  With more funding the charity can source, train and match more assistance dogs, changing not only the life of the autistic person, but the lives of their support network and family.

This interview with the parents of one of their autistic partners discusses their journey with DfA, the challenges of lockdown and the changes that have taken place within their family since meeting their daughter’s autism assistance dog.


How can I help?

Online shopping: Give as you Live enables you to shop from over 3,000 retailers and donate to charity at the same time. If you shop online then you can raise additional money for Dogs for Autism without even noticing! Also use Amazon Smile and the company donates a percentage of your shopping total to your chosen charity.

Facebook Fundraiser: This is a really easy way to raise funds for Dogs for Autism if you have a birthday, Anniversary or other special occasion coming up. For more details see here.

eBay: Why not have a clear out and help Dogs for Autism too?  You can choose to donate all or part of the sale price to charity.

JustGiving: If you want to set up a challenge and raise funds, then visit the Dogs for Autism JustGiving page!

Make a one off or regular donation via the website:


Thank you


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