From the initial pilot in 2007 of one 3-hour program per week, Labs ‘n Life currently offers 20 programs each week covering Schools in the Northern, Western, Southern and Country.
Core Programs provide a wide variety of young people with the opportunity to experience success and gain confidence whilst learning how to build relationships. Theory components aim to improve competencies in line with the National Curriculum.
Targeted students from a school, work with the same dog over a term, semester or year. Generally, the selected students are experiencing significant barriers to a positive involvement at school. Work with the Labs ‘n Life “magicians” – the dogs – has consistently produced an increase in attendance and improved learning outcomes for the students.
Autism Companion Dogs
Labs ‘n Life use future assistance dogs in core programmes and schools, to acquaint them with young people. The dogs become accustomed to spending quality time with young people, and working positively with them. Generic training includes basic obedience, food refusal, working in harness, and anchoring. Play activities such as finding treasure, catching food, bowing, just to name a few are used by the autistic child to give them the confidence associated with being listened to.
All of these activities are essential learning’s for the young dog as they develop their intuitiveness with young people.
Labs ‘n Life Core Dogs
Privately owned dogs are utilised in the Labs ‘n Life Initiative:
- Give young people success because they are working with a dog already partially trained. Students have to discover effective communication.
- Absolutely love going to “work”.
- May be taken to conformation shows and exhibited by the young people.
- At the 2011 Adelaide Royal Show, 17 Labs ‘n Life young people exhibited their dogs, coming away with 13 places!
Parents of autistic children
These are comments by mothers of children after receiving Duke, Striker and Charlie.
“I can’t believe that my daughter is so happy with Duke. She will listen to you telling her what to do with Duke and is laughing and smiling. I can’t remember when I last heard her laugh out loud, and she doesn’t even talk to my friends whom she’s known for years!” – Mother of an autistic child after her first meeting with Duke.
(Duke has gone on to save the life of Johnny on 3 separate occasions! This situation includes being dragged away from a burning shed.)
“My son would always come inside with me — he not only wants to stay outside and play with Striker, but he has shown him his toys as well!” – Mother of an autistic boy after first meeting with Striker.
“Charlie just seemed to know what to do. He anchored my daughter when she tried to run away, and was so calm and controlled with her. He seemed to convince her that the only option was to come back to me!” – Mother of an autistic girl.
“Students have an area in their lives now that provides them with experiences that they are 100% successful in. They are responsible for their dog and have developed a sense of belonging. They have an avenue to express affection in a safe environment. It is great to see students cuddling their dog with big smiles on their face. The Labs ‘n Life program has turned our students’ behaviour and outlook on school around.” – Wandana Primary School.
“Thanks so much for organising the programme for us. It is so good for the children and so good for all of us to see them growing into their responsible case of the doggies.” – Seaford High School.