Even as a baby, mum Emma knew there was something different about Thomas. “Looking into his eyes I just didn’t get any feedback.” It became apparent that he was not simply a ‘late developer’ and autism was finally confirmed when Thomas was six.
“Every day is hard work for Thomas and things we take for granted are a significant challenge for him. He needs constant reminders about everything. If no-one told Thomas to get out of bed, he wouldn’t.”
Thomas is also deeply affected by sensory overload: sudden noises, new or strange smells and sights can seriously affect him.
“Thomas’ behaviour, actions and words are often repetitive, it’s a coping mechanism and shows he stressed and unhappy,” Emma explains.
“I was so excited by what I found when my research for help led me to the charity,” says Emma. “So much advice and information focusses on the negative. Dogs for Good is so positive. I knew we had to get Thomas an autism assistance dog.”
When the charity confirmed the family would get a dog, Emma was thrilled, “I just knew the difference it would make; I never doubted it would help Thomas.”
Briggs, a black Labrador has quite literally changed the whole family’s life. “I would not have believed the difference Briggs has made had I not seen it with my own eyes,” Emma says.
“Before we had Briggs, going out was very stressful for the family. It was common to head out somewhere and never make it. We’ve been asked to leave places because of Thomas’s behaviour.”
“Briggs makes it possible for us to be like other families.”
“Literally from day one everything changed. That first trip was like no other. When we go out Thomas is attached to Briggs, held by me, and he feels safe and secure.”
“We could hardly believe our ears when Thomas said ‘Let’s go out to a restaurant for lunch’ and again when he said a shopping expedition had been fun ‘because we had Briggs with us’. Briggs makes it possible for us to be like other families.”