Ther­apy Dog


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.

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