Forty Oxfordshire families with children with an autism diagnosis are set to benefit from a generous £60,000 grant from the Oxfordshire Freemasons. They are part of 150 children with autism who will benefit nationwide.

The grant, awarded to Dogs for Good, will be used over the course of three years and will go directly into the Oxfordshire Freemasons donation PAWS Family Dog workshops run by the charity. The workshops give advice and support to help families with a child with autism get the most out of their relationship with their family dog.

The series of three, one-day workshops use a combination of practical demonstrations, discussions, hands-on learning and course hand-outs to demonstrate the significant positive effect a well-trained dog can have on the behaviour and development of autistic children.

Oxford-based Alison Pearce, whose daughter has benefitted from the service said: At the first workshop, I was amazed by the many ways in which a pet dog could be trained to help an autistic child and how this would benefit my daughter.  I sat there thinking ‘this could be life-changing.’ It was also beneficial to meet and talk to other parents of children with autism.  I remember thinking ‘I’m not alone, these people really understand.’

“The help from Dogs for Good doesn’t just end after the course. We have continuing support and advice from the Dogs for Good team, and the help my daughter receives from her dog continues to increase.”

The grant from Oxfordshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Andrew Keech from Oxfordshire Freemasons said: “I’m very pleased we’re able to help Dogs for Good who do such wonderful work with autistic children and their families. Thanks to them, many hundreds of people have seen a huge improvement in their quality of life.”

Find out more about our Family Dog service.