GUIDE Dogs Tasmania’s Autism Assistance Dog (AAD) program has received a helping paw in the form of a funding boost from the Tasmanian Bus Association (TasBus).

Through TasBus’ annual fundraiser, which raises money to go towards a charity that supports children in Tasmania, $16,927 was raised for the program.

“The money raised will go to the Guide Dogs Association for their Autism Assistance Dogs program to help children with autism be able to better assimilate into their families and the community,” Tasmanian Bus Association general manager Geoff Lewis said.

“We raised the money at our annual conference where we had a dinner, an auction and raffle, with the sponsors of the auction being suppliers of TasBus.”

Guide Dogs Tasmania program manager Kim Ryan said as part of the program, eligible participants would receive a dog

“The dogs promote confidence, independence and inclusion, and it’s enabling children to have a dog of their own so they have the confidence to go out and have a safety net,” she said.

Benefits of an AAD include assisting with early intervention training for independence and methods to reduce levels of stress and distress.

They also encourage a child to participate in social activities and interact with other people.

“We’re really appreciative of the support so we can grow the program and provide more dogs for Tasmanians,” Ms Ryan said.

“The funds will enable us to purchase more pups to come on to the program to train for these children, as well as much needed equipment and support to place more dogs out in the community.”

Eligibility criteria for an AAD includes being aged between three and eight years old, having a confirmed diagnosis of autism, a severe impairment in functioning, and limited social interaction ability.

“Children with autism are very isolated from their peers, but a dog can help a lot with that,” Ms Ryan said.

“Having a four-legged best friend by their side can keep them calm and often boost their confidence.”

For more information, phone 6232 1222, email info@guidedogstas.com.au, or visit https://guidedogstas.com.au/ourservices/aad/.

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