Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Over the months that Peter has been with us we've found quite a lot of people get very excited once they realise that we have a dog, and tell us lots of wonderful stories of how they've known/read about/seen on TV that children with autism have their worlds "unlocked" by a special relationship with an animal, usually a dog. They then wait expectantly for us to tell them all about how this is magically happening in our home. We were guilty of this ourselves whilst we were waiting for Peter to move in - imagining teaching Peter about empathy, hygiene, eating and toileting whilst he helped us to care for Lady and anticipate her needs. We thought he'd probably attach to her before he attached to us, and pictured the two of them snuggled up together.

Well suffice to say Peter does not have this magical relationship with Lady and it was definitely not love at first sight (on Peter's side at least) - he really couldn't care less whether we had a dog or not!

This has improved a little over time. To start off with, Peter completely ignored Lady and refused to acknowledge her at all, whilst she desperately tried every trick in the book to make friends with him. After a few weeks he touched her on the side without looking at her, and a month or so later he would throw her ball if she put it directly in his way. These days he'll occasionally stroke her tail or briefly pat her tummy, has said her name a few times and has shown that he realises she's a dog by pointing to her lead and saying "woof woof"! He will occasionally allow her to sniff his neck which makes him smile, but usually he just pushes her out of the way if she gets too close. Thankfully she's very robust and doesn't mind!

We've taken her to school a few times when we go to pick Peter up, and whilst his teachers and the other parents and children love her, Peter just gives her a disdainful glance, although he does seem to enjoy watching her walk alongside his buggy on the way home.

Peter does like animals - he can name most farm and zoo animals and knows the sounds they make, he's fascinated by the squirrels in the park, and he loves watching fish, butterflies and birds. Maybe Peter and Lady's friendship will develop as time goes on and they'll become firm friends, but for now poor old Lady is getting the cold shoulder!

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