NEADS Service Dogs for Children

NEADS has two Service Dog programs for children. Our Social Dog program is for children ages 8-16 with autism or other developmental disabilities. Our Facilitated Service Dog program is for children ages 12 and up with physical disabilities. Read about the programs below, and then contact us to start the application process.

Service Dogs for Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities

NEADS Social Dog Program, for Children Ages 8 to 16

For children with autism or other developmental disabilities, the NEADS Social Dog Program can make all the difference. NEADS Service Dogs are trained in a variety of tasks that can address a range of issues facing a child with autism and his or her family.  These include socialization skills, behavioral skills, life skills, and fine and gross motor skills.

NEADS selects Service Dogs for the Social Dog Program for their special chemistry with children. All NEADS Service Dogs are gentle, tolerant and well trained, but each has its own personality that can be matched with an appropriate child. Some children may benefit from a dog that seeks out attention and elicits play. Other children may require a quiet, somewhat reserved dog to make them feel more comfortable. The type of dog that best suits a child's needs is determined during the interview process.

Service Dogs for Children with a Physical Disability

NEADS Facilitated Service Dog Program, for Children ages 12 and up

Service Dogs assist children with a physical disability by performing tasks that the child cannot do or has trouble doing. These tasks are similar to the tasks that Service Dogs do for adults.

These include:

  • picking up dropped items
  • retrieving objects from tables or counters
  • turning light switches on and off
  • pushing automatic door buttons
  • tugging doors and cabinets open
  • standing and bracing for stability during a transfer
  • barking on command for help
  • getting a cordless phone in an emergency

NEADS places Service Dogs with children age 12 and up with the partnership of a parent or guardian (also known as a facilitator). This facilitator must live with the client and accompany him or her in all public places whenever the dog is present. Although the child is the main caregiver for the dog and does most of the work with the dog, the facilitator may take on some responsibility for assisting the child in the care, health and safety of the dog. Ultimately, the facilitator must make sure that the dog's needs are being met and that all training criteria are adhered to. Facilitated service dogs do not attend school with children, since the facilitator must always accompany the dog and client in public places.