Leash-On-Life Program

 Autism Service Dogs
A 2016 report from the Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. TLCAD’s Leash-On-Life program addresses the rising prevalence and unique needs of individuals with autism. Our service dogs assist with the challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum by performing cues and behaviors that improve aspects of safety, social, communication, and adaptive skills, lending to increased independence and quality of life.
“It does not end with TLCAD, once your placed; the payback is 10,000-fold”– Carolyn, mother of autism Service Dog recipient, Garrett

Leash-On-Life Facility Dogs 

These highly specialized dogs touch the lives of children with autism and special needs in schools and therapy centers, by assisting them to reach their academic, social, and developmental goals.

Leash-On-Life Program

Service Dogs & Facility Dogs

A 2016 report from the Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

TLCAD’s Leash-On-Life program addresses the rising prevalence and unique needs of individuals with autism by providing service dogs to individuals with autism and facilities that provide services to individuals with autism.

Service dogs can address the following functional domains affected by autism:

Safety skills are increased by:

Handle-led walking with a third party handler.

Autism service dogs are trained to walk while being handled by a third- party handler (usually the parent or care giver of the individual with autism) while wearing a “squishy” handle attached to dog’s service dog vest. The individual with autism is taught to hold the handle while walking with the service dog and his or her parent or care giver. The team is taught to only move forward when the handle is picked up and to stop moving immediately when the handle is let go of. This behavioral contingency is repeated over time and lends to the individual’s ability to stay within a close proximity of the dog and the third-party handler (their parent or care giver).

Note: Tether-led walking is a short-term strategy used on a case by case basis in order to help the child with autism learn the handle-led walking contingency. Tether-led walking is faded and transferred to handle led walking as soon as possible and is only used in cases where the child’s size and dog’s physical ability allow for it.

Secondary leash walking, where the individual with autism holds a leash attached to the dog’s service dog vest is a variation of handle- led walking that is considered for use on a case by case basis, depending upon the needs of service dog team.

Social skills are facilitated and increased by:

  • Having the dog serve as a social catalyst to allow for opportunities to interact with peers. Giving permission when someone asks, “Can I pet your dog?”

Communication skills are increased by:

  • The dog serving as a motivator to evoke language. Giving the dog cues that empowers the individual when the dog actual obeys the cue!

Adaptive skills are developed by:

  • The child taking responsibility for caring for the dog; feeding, grooming, dressing with vest and leash.

  • Teaching the child to appropriately play and interact with the dog, increasing their leisure repertoire; games with balls, putting items away and laundry into basket.

Sensory Integration Processing Disorder needs are addressed by:

  • Having the dog provide deep pressure (e.g., laying side by side or on top of the child) Playing the game “squish” – to calm them down.

  • Utilizing the service dog for tactile input; grooming and petting.

Partners