Friday 15 April 2022

Team Henry: Expectations versus Reality - School


Our expectations

We were hoping that the Smart Pup would also assist in decreasing L’s anxiety during his daily routines, in particular at school. With approval from the school that L attends, the Smart Pup would accompany him to school to assist in transitions throughout the day. This in turn would mean that L would have more days at school and would also stay at school rather than running off from his classroom when he became overwhelmed.

The reality

School drop offs have become incredibly easier and L is spending more time at school and is staying at school. Henry provides lap lays in the mornings before school at home. As soon as Henry senses that L is becoming overwhelmed, he will go to L and lay on his lap. This will usually calm L enough that he can get himself ready for school.

On the mornings where L is having a rough morning, Henry assists in calming L at home, in the car and in the sensory room at school. They will lay together on the floor of the sensory room, Henry giving L lap lays or just nuzzling L. All of L’s teachers and teacher aides have commented on how quickly L calms when Henry is by his side.

Prior to Henry being placed, we had more rough school drop offs then calm drop offs. We had mornings where we couldn’t get L out of the house. Those mornings are now much fewer. Prior to Henry being placed, on L’s rough mornings, if often took a few hours at school for him to calm. Now, it takes anywhere between 20 minutes and half an hour before he is ready to verbally interact with his teacher aides and he is often back in his classroom before 10 o’clock.

The novelty has now worn off at school about there being a dog on the school grounds – initially we caused absolute chaos at school! The entire school community have embraced Henry and have welcomed him into the school. Whenever L and I take Henry into his classroom, the entire mood of the students in the room calms.

The students at the school as a whole are extremely respectful. On the mornings that L is having a good morning, they will say hi to Henry (I’m now known as Henry’s mum!) and ask the most amazing questions about what Henry actually does, what does a service dog mean, what was his training like and all manner of other questions relating to Henry and what he actually does.

On the mornings that L is having a rough morning, they give us space and let Henry do his thing. And then if they spot Henry and I on our way out of the school after L is calm, they praise Henry for being such a great helper in calming his boy.

School wise - Henry has helped L with his reading skills. Every night before bed time, L reads to Henry. The school aims for every child to record at least 300 reading experiences by the end of the school year. By November last year, L reached just over 600 reading experiences. Henry was rewarded for his reading log too!

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