Ethan and Bella's story
Ethan is an affectionate, sensitive and fun-loving little 5 year old boy. However, he can sometimes become anxious, especially with new and busy public environments. When Ethan is anxious or uncertain, he might cry, cover his ears, or freeze on the spot. Ethan has autism.
Ethan's mum Joanne noticed that Ethan loved spending time with animals and playing with his little brother. After some initial research and attending a PAWS workshop with Assistance Dogs Australia, Joanne applied for an Autism Assistance Dog for Ethan.
The whole family welcomed Bella the Assistance Dog, a cross between a black Labrador and Retriever. Bella is Ethan’s calm “furry therapist” and is always by his side when he is somewhere that would usually frighten him. She also accompanies him to his weekly speech therapy classes and Ethan loves knowing Bella is lying by his side.
"One of the main goals we hoped to accomplish with an Autism Assistance Dog was the ability to utilize Bella in Ethan's various therapies. Not only to help alleviate stress, but aid in concentration and participation." said mum Joanne.
"Bella's presence prompts Ethan to remain on task, and provides him an opportunity to have 'brain breaks' between tasks, where he seeks comfort in physical touch with Bella."
Bella also helps Ethan practice his speech articulation and sentence structuring, as he talks to her and gives her commands.
Bella's training was sponsored by Discount Drug Stores, who are delighted with her progress.
"We're so thankful for to Bella's sponsor for sponsoring her training, otherwise we couldn't have beautiful Bella in our family. She is very much loved, and Ethan's best friend in the entire world. We feel very blessed by her.” said Joanne.