On August 17, 2016, Karen Rice and Wendi Faircloth from Raising Hope presented at Life Development Institute’s (LDI) monthly Speaker Series.  Each month, LDI offers a Speaker Series event to students, families, staff, professionals, and community members.  These events provide the participants with education focused upon application in daily living.  This objective mirrors that of Life Development Institute, which is to offer fully-accredited high school, college, and career-focused programs for young adults with special education needs due to learning disabilities, Asperger’s syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, and other social or learning issues.

During their workshop, Karen and Wendi explained that Raising Hope exists to connect persons who have Autism Spectrum Disorder with dogs who can help empower seemingly impossible things.  Raising Hope utilizes dogs to assist in teaching and educating persons on daily living skills.  The assistance provided by the dogs supports persons physically, socially, emotionally, through self-care, independent living, and pre-vocational training.  In fact, the interest and connection between people and animals provides foundational interest and motivation to continue through the process of learning.  Further, the differences experienced in learning can be accommodated for through the use of Raising Hope’s dogs.

Continuing their discussion, Karen and Wendi identified five categories of dogs that are used to identify types of dogs who help persons with ASD.  First, the Autism Service Dogs are designed to have specific tasks that they can use to help people on the spectrum.  The main way these dogs are used is to provide sensory input, deep pressure, or grounding.  Second, the Emotional Support Animal title classifies dogs that do not necessarily do specific tasks but are designed to provide comfort and care for people as they are out in the community and at home.  It is important to note that Emotional Support Animals have special protections, which enable persons to have them where they live and take them with them as they travel on airplanes.  Third, Therapy Dogs exists to help persons reach goals that are otherwise difficult for them to obtain.  Fourth, Sport Dogs provide satisfaction and identity for persons who actively engage with them.  Fifth, the Family Pet provides a lot of joy when properly trained and well-suited for the household.

Finally, Karen and Wendi offered students the opportunity to discover ways in which they can learn from two of their dogs, Secret and Rebel.  Furthering this education, Raising Hope is offering persons around the greater Phoenix metropolitan area the opportunity to participate with them in the Hope Dog Challenge.  The Hope Dog Challenge is an exciting day of outdoor dog sports competition designed to support and unique needs of kids, teens, and young adults with Autism.  The goal is help those involved to develop important physical, social, and emotional skills.  This will take place as teams of persons join together with dogs to learn a range of games using Frisbees, tunnels, and jumps.  Then, they will take these skills to competition day and compete.  From here, the winning team will then compete the next weekend in the national competition UpDog Challenge.

If you would like more information on Raising Hope or Hope Dog Challenge, please visit http://www.raisinghopedogs.com/.  For more information on Life Development Institute, please call (623) 773-1545 or email info@discoverldi.com.