Thursday 21 April 2022

Team Henry: Expectations versus Reality - Tracking

Our expectations

Once we knew that L’s Smart Pup was going to happen within the next twelve months, or thereabouts, we began to think forward about our expectations of having an Autism Assistance Service Dog placed with L.
One of L’s coping mechanisms when he needs to escape sensory overload from crowded or noisy or bright places, is to run. When L spots something that he wants to look at, he runs. When his emotions overcome him, he just runs. It doesn’t cross his mind that he should tell us when he wants to look at something or when he needs to escape from overload. This is a behaviour that we see in him on a regular basis. At present when L wanders, he will hide and not answer to his name. We were hoping that the Smart Pup would be trained to quickly find L.
The Reality
Henry is trained to track L when he runs away off. We practice this every few days either in the house or at our local park. Every time we practice this by playing hide and seek, Henry finds L within minutes, if not seconds.
Within the first four weeks of Henry being placed with us, Henry tracked L for real three times.
The first being inside the house when I couldn't find L. The doors were closed so I knew that he was in the house. Henry found him in our bedroom hiding within a matter of seconds of being given the command to find L.
The second was out the front door of our house. Both kids wanted to watch the lunar eclipse so I said let's go out the back. When O and I went out the back door, I didn't realise that L had decided to go out the front. When I came back inside to get L, Henry was on high alert facing the front door and the front door was open. He tracked L to out the front of our place.
The third was at a park close to the beach. We hadn’t been to the park before and all it took was for me to turn away for a few seconds and L ran off. As soon as I gave Henry the command, he took off in the direction of a pond which was between us and the beach. Henry found L on the other side of the pond playing on some exercise equipment.
Having Henry trained to track L is truly life saving. Henry has since tracked L a few more times for real and has always found him within minutes.
Henry is always on high alert whenever he spots L running, even if it is just during play, including at his therapy activities. We always have to reassure Henry in these instances that L is okay. Henry relaxes a little but he is still on alert.
Henry is even responded to O running – she was extremely excited about something that had happened at school and was running being happy, flappy. Henry looked at L walking beside me and then looked towards where O was running and then looked at me as if to ask “is O okay, do I need to find her.”

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