Error message

Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES

ACES is Hiring!

Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES

March 7, 2017,

Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES
The unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship felt from a therapy dog can add an element of novelty that enriches a therapy session and bring joy to individuals challenged with autism. ACES is proud of our partnership with the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OC SPCA). For seven years and going strong, ACES has been a part of their P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Wonderful Support) program.

ACES offers a weekend ABA Program, known as "WABA," for children and teens of all abilities. The program is offered most weekends and participants socialize, engage in meaningful activities, and have new experiences such as visiting a PAWS therapy dog. The OC SPCA and ACES came together with a shared goal of enriching the lives of individuals with autism. All those years ago, ACES could not have anticipated our partnership would reach so many young people in such a profound way but we could not be more pleased. Supervisor Roxy Betancourt says, "When you see the kids walking around the office with the dogs, seeing their smile is very rewarding."

"Adobe, My Golden Retriever truly looks forward to our monthly visits to ACES. She and I love the interaction that we share with the kids. In my opinion, this unique opportunity is undoubtedly the highlight of the PAWS program!"
- Volunteer John Davis-Vollrath and 'Adobe'

Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES
Socialization can be very difficult for a person with autism yet at WABA we create every opportunity to be welcoming, child-friendly, and supportive of attempts at socializing by children and teens with autism. Therapy dogs help create an atmosphere within ACES that promotes learning, engagement, and naturalistic opportunities that may be hard to replicate elsewhere.

Children and teens at WABA interact with the dogs and their owners in a number of ways. Participants can be seen welcoming the dogs, brushing them, learning about their breed, walking them around the ACES office, and so much more. Clinical Quality Manager of Groups Lily Law stated, "We are very fortunate to have the therapy dogs. I feel like every child benefits from them in some way, whether it's to work on their fear of dogs or just having that connection with them when they sit next to them or pet them."

Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES
ACES provides this opportunity knowing that not all families who have a child with autism are able to have a pet due to the strain that autism might put on a family. Over the years, countless families have expressed their gratitude to ACES and OC SPCA for giving their son or daughter the opportunity to interact with an animal in a safe, calm and comforting place. The partnership has also allowed families to experience the love of a dog and ask questions of the owners as part of deciding whether or not to get one for their own family.

"Taylor loves going to see the kids. In fact a few of them request and call her by name now! The transformation of a timid boy hesitant about a dog "that looks like a wolf" and now RUNS to her calling her by name has been at the very least extremely moving for both Taylor and myself. She knows he's going to hug her and she just sits ready for it. It's a connection that moves me even right now talking about it..."
- Volunteer Ann Carruthers and 'Taylor'

Not all children or teens are interested in the therapy dogs, at first. Some are even terrified to get near the dogs. ACES behavior interventionists are trained to promote positive behaviors and social skills to navigate challenging behavior that may occur, all while helping the child feel safe and supported during the dog visit. With time, most children and teens at ACES come to love, expect, and know each dog and their owner. As a special touch, the volunteers bring postcards of their dogs for the children and teens to take home with them.

Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES
The volunteers from OC SPCA are an incredible addition to our WABA program, and may not even realize the extent to which they create valuable opportunities for our clients. ACES is very grateful to the staff and volunteers for their many wonderful contributions over the years.

ACES is excited to announce we are bringing the therapy dogs to our WABA program in Anaheim. For more information, please contact us today.

“I have been visiting the ACES facility since the program started there. I actually began the facility to get it started with our volunteers, but was so moved with the visits and the interaction with the children there that I have been there ever since. I have had 5 different dogs in the program at ACES and have seen many transformations over the years and watched many times how children once afraid of the dogs now lay with them and know each by name.. To see the expressions on the faces of the children, and how they light up when they come into the room to see the dogs is special. I love the program and how the dogs can be such an asset to helping the children progress socially and helping them learn how to properly interact with the dogs. I am so proud that we can be a part of this.”
- Volunteers Kevin Marlin and Crew (Odie, Mika, Holly, Patriot and Colby)

Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES Therapy Dogs Enriching Lives at ACES