Our progress with Julian has been quick and impressive. For this week’s session, I brought Benny. We always begin with Julian greeting the dog he asked to come, Benny, and having him become familiar with the dog again. He initially is shy and needs time to re-acclimate to the animal. Within few minutes however he was giving High 5’s to Benny and reaching out on his own to touch him. He remembered his name and my name. He asked where Kirby was so I told him Kirby was at the doctor. He understood that and showed me his Coco doll. He introduced Coco to Benny again.
Then we asked him if he wanted to meet a bigger dog, even bigger than Izzy, who he met last session. He said yes. We asked if the dog should be inside or outside. He said outside.
Kelly had brought Bailey for this session and was outside waiting with him on a grassy area.
Julian walked outside with his therapists, Benny and myself and looked at Bailey. From a distance he became comfortable watching Bailey. Then the miracle happened. He had been holding his therapist’s hand and on his own he slowly removed his hand and walked towards Bailey. He wanted to get closer and see the big dog. He took his Coco doll and presented it to Bailey for him to sniff, as he had been taught to greet new dogs. Julian made direct eye contact with Bailey.
Julian is still anxious about a dog’s face being in front of him so Bailey was lying down with his head facing away from Julian. With Benny, Julian was ok having him head on but the bigger dog still made him a bit nervous. So we all took our time. Kelly was wonderful encouraging conversation and Julian inched closer and closer. He reached out to touch Bailey and that critical connection was made.
Then Julian said he wanted to walk Bailey. So walk we did. A little pack walk with big ole Bailey and little Benny trailing behind.
At one point I asked Julian if he wanted to brush Benny and he did – right away. Then we asked if he wanted to hold Benny. And he did. It was very funny trying to hold Benny while holding Julian steady and sweet Benny just went with the flow and stayed in any position we put him in!
Julian actually held Benny in his arms for the first time.
We all walked back inside the therapy center and Bailey lay down on the floor and went to sleep! Snoring! Julian keep looking at him and watching, watching. He noticed when Benny put his huge paw on Kelly’s leg.
We had Benny up on the mat with Julian and at first he did not want the dog close to him. But soon he got closer and closer and before you knew it they were touching and petting.
Once again the power of the dogs took hold and Julian was in a small room with two dogs, one of which was quite large!
We always end the session with Julian helping me walk to my car and put my dog in the car seat. Today we showed him how Bailey walks up a ramp to get into his car.
Next he held Benny’s leash and helped me put him up into his seat. Then he looked right at him – about an inch from his face. What a breakthrough.
This week Julian’s displayed great focus, initiating language and conversation, making choices, being very close to a new dog, a much larger dog, and becoming even more comfortable with a dog he has come to know and love.
Keep reading to follow Julian’s progress as we meet weekly to harness the power of the pets with a young boy on the autism spectrum.