Autism is something that touches many families in Connecticut and sometimes something as simple as a four-legged companion can make all the difference for child with autism.
A program called Canine Magic at Educated Canines Assistance Dogs (ECAD) in Winchester does nothing short of something magical.
Two weeks ago, three boys who have autism were paired with a service dogs for a training program.
On Tuesday, they got to go home with their pup and start a whole new life in a beautiful and meaningful way.
Jeannine and Bill Eslinger have a 9-year-old son named Timothy, who has autism. He is non-verbal, so communicating is frustrating.
The family lives on Long Island, and was desperate to find Timothy a friend.
"At one point, Timothy was on the couch screaming and Sky got up went over and put his head on Timothy's lap and Timothy stopped crying and started petting Sky. I couldn't believe it. That quickly they had that bond,” Jeannine Eslinger said.
Seeing a boy and his dog is about as sweet as it gets, but for Timothy, it’s something much more than that—it is a friendship that is a means of survival.
Sky is a 2-year-old Golden Retriever, and Program Director Lu Picard specifically breeds dogs with the right temperament for children with special needs.
"We start watching what dog actually goes to the kid who's having anxiety...which dog runs in when a kid is upset and which one runs out, then I start to pick from there,” Picard said.
"At the end of the day, you just want your kid to grow up happy and be content, whether it's college (he) wants to go to or a career. So we stopped looking at what college Tim is going to go to and started saying how can we make him happy and one of the ways we did that was to find him a friend,” Bill Eslinger said.
The two other boys who participated in the program also had very similar rapid gains with their service dogs so as they navigate the road of life it helps to have four extra legs for the journey, and it doesn't hurt to have a best friend along the way.
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