One-year old Kipper joined Clarice Timones Abanilla’s family as a companion for her autistic son. The Manila-based mom says, “Ever since we had [Kipper], life is more wonderful. When my son has his meltdowns, he will call for Kipper. He wants Kipper to sleep in our room too. Only sometimes, when he’s really not in the mood, he [picks] on Kipper… [pulling on] his fur most of the time… i think our dog knows that Evo, my son, is special, [which is] why he [puts up with this treatment].”
Yet Evo is protective of Kipper, getting upset if anyone shouts at the dog. Evo will shout back at that person, or even yank on their shirt. While therapy dogs are not yet a common sight in the Philippines, there are autism assistance dogs—and they are unique among dogs that help people. Dogs like Kipper help reduce stress for family members; promote positive changes in an autistic child’s behavior; and provide comfort when autistic children are upset. Autism assistance dogs, Che notes, help improve the quality of life for families of children living with autism.