“I’d become virtually house-bound with Beth, leaving my husband Steve and son Jack to go out without us.” says Mum Teresa, “Taking Beth into town, to the supermarket or out to a restaurant had become a family nightmare.”
“Like many children with autism, Beth struggled with crowds, noise and unfamiliar environments, resulting in what appeared to outsiders like bad behaviour.”
Autism assistance dog Quartz’s arrival has transformed life for the whole family.
“The transformation has been staggering. Just Quartz’s presence in his assistance dog jacket has made a huge difference,” says Teresa, “people immediately understand that Beth needs extra help and support so they become less critical.”
“People also ask Beth about Quartz and she wants to talk about him. “He’s my assistance dog,” says Beth proudly, “he helps me”. Brother Jack is delighted the whole family now goes out together.”
Stroking Quartz is comforting and reassuring for Beth, keeping her calmer in stressful situations. “Everyone’s much calmer now Quartz is with us,” says Teresa. “Before he arrived we were tense and on edge, always alert for what might trigger the next outburst. I still can’t quite believe that Beth will spend a whole half hour grooming Quartz. Nothing could engage her for so long before he came.”
Walking beside or crossing the road can be another minefield for parents of a child with autism. “Beth has no sense of speed or danger. Before Quartz I was terrified; Beth would just let go of my hand and dart off. Once she ran out of the house and was heading for the road just as a bus was coming. Steve just caught her in time.”
Quartz is specially trained to give confidence and security to both parent and child. With unlimited access to public places like shops, libraries and restaurants he can accompany Beth wherever she goes. Wearing a special jacket connected to both Beth and Teresa, Quartz automatically sits and will only cross the road on Teresa’s command. If Beth pulls away he’s trained to sit and prevent her moving.
“Now we can go shopping, out for a meal – anywhere. As long as Quartz is beside Beth, she’s content to go out with the family – he’s given us a whole new lease of life.”