Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Therapy Dog, Payton, Helps Ethan

Ethan attends a 2 Day a Week Preschool at Easter Seals called ITAP (Intensive Autism Therapy Program). Several months ago, a paper came home with Ethan....a permission slip to include a therapy dog, Payton, into Ethan's class. I was excited for this opportunity because Ethan has a slight anxiety regarding dogs. But I knew if anyone could help Ethan overcome this fear, it would be Easter Seals.

Since then, Payton has made several appearances to Ethan's classroom. Not only has Payton helped alleviate his fears regarding dogs, but something else amazing has happened....

Ethan is riding the elevator at Easter Seals!
Ethan with Payton on the elevator.
Why is this amazing? Ethan HATES elevators. If I could think of a stronger word for hate, I would use that instead. Every time we walk up to one, Ethan WIGS OUT & climbs me like a tree. Once on the elevator, he screams the ENTIRE time. It's awful. Last fall, we went to visit my grandpa in the hospital, and the route to his room included 3 different elevators. We managed the first one, but after that....Ethan was NOT having it. He became impossible. So, we took the stairs. By the time I got to my grandpa's room, I was EXHAUSTED...physically & emotionally. Thank goodness my visits with my Grandpa were always uplifting. Man, I miss that man. He would really have enjoyed hearing this story.

ANYWAY, the Easter Seals staff had NO idea about Ethan's fears of elevators. One day during a Payton visit, they ran out of water for him. They asked Ethan if he wanted to go with Payton & a teacher to fill up a pitcher of water for the therapy dog. Ethan agreed & off they went. However, the route to the water included a one story trip up their elevator. Needless to say, the staff was now aware of Ethan's elevator fear. :0)

Ms. Lori  was the therapist with Ethan, and she utilized Payton's prescence to calm Ethan & his anxiety. She encouraged Ethan to pet him, and say phrases like, "An elevator is a safe place for me." Guess what folks.....it is working! The staff has continued to do this for several weeks now. Even when Payton isn't there, they have given Ethan a picture of the dog to hold. And an extra picture to take home. That picture now stays in our car, and it has already helped relieve anxiety with several events in our daily life. I'm interested to see how it will be with our next elevator ride.

Payton is such a sweet dog. To see how he is helping kids at Easter Seals, click here to see a local news interview done on him & his trainer. You can see him in action!
We have been able to capture a few photos of Ethan with Payton & THE elevator. Thanks to Ms. Lori for taking pictures during this activity!

Is that a smile? In an ELEVATOR? YEAH!

Ethan giving Payton a treat!

Thumbs up for riding the elevator!

This morning Ethan & I were playing "city" with all of his Little People toys.

Look who was at school with the kids? PAYTON! Ethan put Payton in the school! I LOVE IT!!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe you should get a dog at your house? I know those therapy dogs are so expensive, but how sweet and so useful they are for our kiddos. So excited it has been positive for Ethan.
    PS Thanks for all your sweet comments while I was in China. They lifted me up. It is amazing to be home!