“Can a dog be used as a Motivator to develop social interaction and engagement with teachers for students with autism?”.
Thursday 2nd March
At Drumbeat we are continually striving to put new initiatives and interventions in place to benefit and develop the curriculum opportunities on offer to pupils. As you know in recent years Dudley our school dog has done some fantastic work with pupils and we were able to complete a research project around some of this work; “Can a dog be used as a Motivator to develop social interaction and engagement with teachers for students with autism?”.
Unfortunately Dudley has decided to take early retirement and is now living on the coast, but a new school dog called ‘Oakley’ will be starting in school on the 14th March. Oakley will only be eight weeks old when he starts and will spend a lot of time being desensitised to the sensory aspects of school such as the noise and smells. Once he has had his second lot of puppy injections at ten weeks he will then be able to venture out a bit further and start working more directly with pupils.
Over the last ten years there has been a vast amount of research and anecdotal evidence supporting the role of dogs and other animals working with and alongside children and young people with autism. There is more information available via the ‘Dogs for Good’ website (dogsforgood.org).
Some of the therapists working in school are also interested in developing sessions with Oakley as they have in the past with Dudley. It is also possible that Oakley will join pupils at playtimes and at other times in the week such as environmental visits, and in the past we have seen some real benefits to the pupils.
We have undertaken a risk assessment with external partners and there is a very low risk of a pupil being bitten by the dog. However, as you know with things like this, risk can never be eliminated. Oakley will be taking part in a high level of training, obedience and temperament testing. As an excitable puppy we will also be working with pupils to support Oakley’s learning.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me at school or by e-mail. Yours sincerely,