Our Vision & Mission

Our Vision:

To be the visible expression of the holistic mission of Christ to the Special Needs Children. To become an efficient and effective Centre that provides educational programmes and support for all types of special needs children, such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, Developmental Disabilities/Mental Retardation, Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Global Delay, Asperger’s Syndrome, William Syndrome, Tourette's Syndrome, etc.

Our Mission:

We strive to demonstrate and proclaim God's love to the community by offering services to people with learning difficulties so that they may achieve their full potential.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Animal Therapy for children with Autism

As people have researched that pet assisted therapy is excellent for children with autism, we are testing it out to see the positive overall improvement on our children.

Below are some of the articles related to the above subject:

How Pet Therapy Can Help Autism

Animal-assisted therapy may increase self-confidence and other skills in children with autism.

Man’s best friend can truly be your child’s best friend, according to some studies on the interaction between pets and autistic children.
Many parents are surprised to see the connection between their autistic child and animals. You might see it happening spontaneously — just when you are wondering how to help improve your child's communication and social skills, you notice that he acts playful, happier, and more focused when around a friend's pet. Or perhaps you have heard about the profound impact animals can have on some children with autism from another parent. Whatever prompts you, it may be time to introduce your autistic child to the wide world of animals.
Animal-Assisted Therapy for Autism
Being around household pets or having structured contact with animals can be a great addition to treatment for children with autism. There are many reports from both parents and clinicians that interacting with animals, formally called animal-assisted therapy, can offer both physical and emotional benefits to children with autism.
Animal-assisted therapy can be as simple as bringing a family pet into the household or as structured as programs that offer horseback riding or swimming with dolphins. Interaction with animals can help children with autism become more physically developed and improve their strength, coordination, and physical abilities. More importantly, many people derive much joy from their relationship with animals, which can help autistic children have a better sense of well-being and more self-confidence.
Animals can be amazing for children with autism, says Colleen Dolnick, a mother in Town and Country, Mo., who has a 10-year-old son with autism. "Animals can relate to these children. And these children, who have a hard time relating to peers, can really relate to animals."
Animals and Autism: What the Research Says
While more research is still needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits of animal-assisted therapy specifically for children with autism, a number of studies have suggested it could help. In the 1970s, psychologist and researcher David Nathanson began studying how interactions with dolphins affected children with disabilities. Nathanson found that being around dolphins could increase a child's attention, enhance their thinking, help them learn faster, and retain information longer.
More recently, a study published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research looked at the effects of interacting with dogs on children with autism spectrum disorders. For the study, children were exposed to a ball, a stuffed dog, or a live dog under the supervision of a therapist. The children who played with the live dog were in a better mood and more aware of their surroundings than the children who were exposed to the ball or stuffed dog.

 A ne New educational program at Toledo Zoo

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
New educational program at the Toledo Zoo is helping children with special needs develop special relationships. It pairs young children with autism with animals.
Research shows animal-assisted therapy really benefits children with special needs and especially those with autism. So what can a guinea pig teach a child with special needs? Toledo Zoo Lead Education Programmer Amy Magers says, "The kids are instantly excited by the animals but then they start to switch gears a little bit and really start to focus. You can see them building a relationship with the individual animals and that's what we're really trying to achieve here."
The interaction is part of a new zoo program called "APES." It stands for animals providing emotional support and is aimed at high functioning children with autism. Wagers says, "They spend time with the Nature's Neighborhood goats and the guinea pigs. And they work to develop relationships with the animals in hopes that those relationships will lead to building relationships with people in the future."
The program is starting with youngsters ages 5 to 8. They visit twice a week and work one on one with a special needs paraprofessional and zookeepers. Wagers says, "What we noticed after a session with the animal, the student typically pays more attention to the teacher. We see an increased amount of attention and focus."
The program's creators hope that will lead to better focus or more interaction in other parts of the children's lives. It started June 20th and will continue through September 1st. If there's interest, the zoo may extend that time and the age range. There is a fee for the program. You can find out more by calling the Toledo Zoo at 419-385-5721.


March 14, 2008

Dogs help autistic children connect

Juliet Rix


In a quiet Bristol suburb, Helen Johnson holds a long lead at the end of which is Percy, a large black labrador. Alongside walks her six-year-old son William. A normal family walk, you might think. And it is. For the Johnsons, however, such a walk, even just around the block, is a new and wonderful achievement. And it is all due to three-year-old Percy, the UK's first autism assistance dog.
William suffers from autism and learning difficulties. One in 100 children is believed to be on the autistic spectrum, although only some will be as severely affected as William, who rarely makes eye contact, is still in nappies, and has no recognisable language. He becomes distressed by changes in routine and he hates walking - or used to. Without Percy, says his mother, he'd sit in the middle of the pavement within minutes of setting off and refuse to move. He might grizzle, cry or flap his arms in classic autistic repetitive behaviour. “We had reached the point where we avoided going out. It was just too exhausting.”
Hardly surprising then that six months ago the Johnsons leapt at the chance to become the first family in Britain to receive an autism assistance dog as part of a two-year pilot project by Dogs for the Disabled. Dogs have been used to help autistic children in North America for several years and, since 2005, in Ireland. Now, 16 families in the UK, with autistic children aged between 3 and 10, will receive dogs before the end of next year. If they prove beneficial - and if funding allows - more will follow.
Dogs for the Disabled has long trained dogs to help physically disabled people, but it began to partner them with children in 2004. Helen McCain, the charity's director of training and development, admits that training dogs to help autistic kids is quite a departure. Rather than teaching the dog to carry out specific tasks, such as emptying a washing machine or opening doors, it is a matter of selecting a dog with a calm temperament and teaching it to follow instructions, and to stay steady and affectionate whatever is going on around it.
After more than a year of socialisation, followed by about nine months of formal training - and a bill of £10,000 - Percy is “Mr Chilled”, says Helen Johnson. “Nothing fazes him.” This is more than can be said of even the most laid-back parents, particularly when their child throws a wobbly in the middle of a shopping centre. “I get stressed and uptight, which only makes matters worse,” she admits. “Percy doesn't and, as a result, it actually helps to calm the situation down.” Helen McCain agrees: “Dogs don't come with emotional baggage and they don't have to think about the shopping. They aren't worried about what a child might do. They are non-judgmental and unconditional.”
There is something about being with Percy, Johnson says, that calms William and makes him more focused. “We don't really know why it works,” she says, “but it does.” Evidence, albeit mainly anecdotal, has been building for some time to support the idea that dogs (and occasionally horses) can help autistic children to connect better with the world around them.
William has no sense of danger
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (IGDB) carried out a pilot scheme with eight children in 2005 and found that they all became more willing to visit new places and more aware of danger. Some families also reported fewer tantrums and a marked improvement in behaviour, independence and language development. Two American studies reported similar findings.
As we leave the Johnsons' neat, modern home to go for our walk, William immediately wanders towards the kerb. Even though his mother calls him back repeatedly, explaining that he has no sense of danger, he doesn't respond. Percy, meanwhile, bounces around like any excited pet dog. Until, that is, Johnson produces “the jacket” and “the belt”. She places these on the dog and the child and attaches them together. The atmosphere is instantly calmer.
William doesn't bolt, as do many autistic children, but he does wander, and Percy is trained to sit when he feels a sustained tug on his lead, “anchoring” his young master. Once Percy's jacket is on he knows he is “working” and, usefully, so does everyone else. It makes it obvious that William isn't just naughty. Before Percy joined the family, Johnson would get dirty looks from passers-by if William started playing up. “We still draw attention,” says Johnson, “but it is all positive. Percy does our explaining for us. I no longer have to justify my son's behaviour.”
Not only is William tethered to Percy, but he also holds a handle on the dog's jacket. Johnson directst Percy with a string of gentle commands and encouragement, and William walks happily beside him. Johnson has no need to nag her son. She doesn't even have to ask him to stop before we cross roads. She directs Percy, and William follows, smiling, babbling and humming to himself.
“This is a lovely project,” says Richard Mills, the director of research at the National Autistic Society. Unlike many “treatments” for autism (mainstream drugs and alternative therapies), it involves no risk. “It is hard to see any downsides and it helps the whole family,” he says. Mills is working with Dogs for the Disabled on a protocol to record the results of the pilot as scientifically as possible. The aim is to begin to understand more about why and how the dogs help and who is most likely to benefit.
Meanwhile, Johnson is delighted simply to be able to walk with her son. We are on the way back to the house when William suddenly trips and falls on the pavement. Johnson picks him up, cuddles and reassures him, then offers his hurt hand to Percy to lick. William strokes Percy's head and stops crying. He puts his free hand in mine and the four of us walk the rest of the way home.
A happy tail
Nuala Gardner and her son Dale, now 19, have first-hand experience of the impact a dog can have on an autistic child. Dale has severe autism and, as a young child, didn't speak, show affection or understand emotions.
When he was 5, the family visited a cousin who owned two Scottie dogs and, to everyone's surprise, Dale spent the day happily playing with the pair. The Gardners decided to buy a golden retriever puppy, Henry, and, within weeks, the teachers were saying Dale was happier and related to other children better, and was improving faster in all areas.
“I found faces scary,” says Dale, now at college studying for an HNC in childcare. “I would misread expressions. But Henry had such a calm and friendly face and he never looked angry. I could look at him and it took away the stress of talking to people.”
To find out more about the pilot scheme, call 01295 252600 or visitwww.dogsforthedisabled.org
Philip Millard is running the London Marathon on April 13 to raise money for Treehouse, a charity for the education of autistic children. Go to themillards.groups.timeshealth.co.uk
Pets and health
Blood pressure A study in Australia of 5,741 people showed that those with pets had significantly lower blood pressure and blood- fat levels than non-pet owners.
Anxiety Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University in the US took animals into a psychiatric hospital to visit 230 patients. They found that interaction with an animal significantly reduced patients' anxiety.
Depression In a study last year, Italian researchers found that dogs lowered depression among patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Foster friendships A University of Warwick study in 2000 showed that being accompanied by a dog meant more interactions with strangers.
Exercise A 2006 US study of 1,282 dog-walkers concluded that owning a dog encouraged people to take more exercise.

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