There are many types of therapy dogs in existence today and as professionals continue to delve into other ways that canines are able to aide people in distress, more and more methods come about. One of the newer discoveries is how dogs are able to help those with speech impairments to communicate.
Approximately 7.5 million people in the United States alone have speech and language disorders. Sometimes these conditions can readily be overcome with therapy, but in some cases it will take much more.
New technology, such as iPads, are helping the dogs aide those with verbal disabilities to be able to communicate. Michele C. Hollow presented a report on Ricochet, an AKC certified therapy dog AHA Hero Dog and ASPCA Dog of the Year in the Pet News and Views December of last year.
The dog performs the commands given to her by the TouchChat application from the iPad. Ricochet’s handler, Judy Fridono no longer has to give clues to her.
Now people with disabilities like strokes, Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders or any other disability that prevents oral communication, are able to be more independent. Thanks to Paws’itive Teams, a Californian 501(c)(3) organization and its revolutionary discoveries with their custom therapy dog programs; implemented by Renee Tompkins, a Speech Pathologist at Poway Unified School District Transition Program.
The dogs trained by Paws’itive Teams are placed in San Diego County and provide lifetime team support for their specific individual. This organization trains service dogs, facility dogs and therapy dogs.
The trainers are in for the long haul. Take for example Carolyn Peters. This service dog trainer has been volunteering with the agency for eight years; totally superseding her two-year minimum required commitment. A training commitment takes two years because they get a dog when it is seven-weeks old and continuously work with them until they are at least two years old.
Peters has upped her commitment level four times and has no plans of stopping. Trainers like Peters have learned patience and the power of positive reinforcement. Dogs have a way of making everything better and she wants people to have opportunities that they would otherwise not have. That is why she is so committed to taking the dogs everywhere she goes to get them used to the general public.
The trainers also welcome the new technology as a means of helping disabled individuals get even better care. As time moves forward it and technology increases, there will only be better and more improved methods to making life easier for those that need a little extra boost.