Tracey Williams & Cuba
My name is Tracey Williams and I’m an Intensive Special Education Teacher for Boston Public Schools. Several years ago I had three therapy dogs participate in a summer program for students with autism. The dogs came in twice a week and worked with children ages 3.9 to 5 years of age. The children increased their language skills, social skills, improved behavioral issues and classroom topics such as turn taking and completing a task. After that experience I was hooked on working with a classroom dog and students with behavioral needs, Autism, cognitive and developmental diagnosis.
My classroom consists of children who are entering school for the first time and have severe anxiety, non-verbal, and socialization deficits. Having Cuba in the classroom calms the environment for learning, increases verbal skills as well as social skills and increases the motivation for the whole classroom.
I have seen the excellent outcomes of using a classroom dog for students with limited to none receptive language, Autism, Oppositional Defiance, Conduct Disorder, ADHD, and other behavioral needs. I have used classroom dogs for the last four years with three schools and find the results to be well worth the endeavor.
My continued hope is to establish a solid program within my classroom and reach out to other teachers within my district to use classroom dogs in higher grades and establish a learning community that goes beyond special education, involving all students in classrooms using a classroom dog in all of their learning environments.