Assistance dog a godsend for local Grade 1 student

Levi the autism assistance service dog and Grade 1 student Emily Ainsworth are ready to show people what they can accomplish together.

Emily Ainsworth

Levi the autism assistance service dog and Grade 1 student Emily Ainsworth are ready to show people what they can accomplish together.

Monday was their first day of class at Joseph Welsh Elementary School, but the pair was introduced at a school assembly two weeks ago where students learned Levi is a working dog so they can only interact with him under special circumstances. They can’t pet him, call him or whistle at him. But they can wave.

That’s all the young audience needed to hear.

“The entire gym started waving. It was so cute. And when I left, 350 little hands waved — Bye Levi,” said Emily’s mother Alison Ainsworth on Monday.

Levi, a Labradoodle, has been at Emily’s side for 1.5 years.

Autism assistance dogs are helping out in unique ways, the same as diabetic alert dogs and epileptic response dogs. Internationally, dogs for autism are popular, but there still aren’t many in Canada, Ainsworth said.

Emily’s service dog helps her to interpret safety and danger, and differentiate between cause and effect.

In public, she is tethered to him by a belt around her waist to prevent her from bolting out into traffic.

Levi will protect Emily, who is seven but looks like she is four, from predators and can track her if she gets lost.

“He has alerting capabilities too. His body movements, his mannerisms will tell you if she’s feeling stressed or anxious or if she’s going to have a meltdown,” the mom said.

“He has a calming influence on her by touching her or rubbing up against her to provide soothing sensory.”

The family recently moved from Medicine Hat. Last year, Levi and Emily were featured on The Larry King Live show on World Autism Awareness Day.

Ainsworth said called Levi a bridge to the world for both Emily and her family due to the limits autism puts on a family.

“He’s given her the opportunity to experience things that she can grow and benefit from so she can one day become a productive member of society.

“What he’s done is opened doors for us and given us access not just to the community, but to our life.”

Thursday April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Central Alberta women donate grad dresses to families in need

Cha-ching – it’s grad season. Some central Alberta women know first hand… Continue reading

Red Deer man pleads guilty to role in 2015 stabbing

Daniel Boyd Sawyer sentenced in Calgary court to five years in prison for manslaughter

Photo: Celebrating Mother Earth in Red Deer

Women of all ages gathered to mark Earth Day

Man dead in ATV collision in central Alberta

Rocky Mountain House RCMP are investigating a quad rollover collision that left… Continue reading

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand “a roof too”

PARIS — Dozens of public housing advocates are protesting outside the gutted… Continue reading

Sri Lankan-Canadians mourn victims of terrorist attack in their homeland

Sri Lankan-Canadians were gathering Monday to mourn those killed in a massive… Continue reading

Residents along Saint John River told to remain on alert as floodwaters rise

FREDERICTON — People who live along New Brunswick’s Saint John River are… Continue reading

Prince Edward Island voters to cast verdict on new electoral system

CHARLOTTETOWN — Canadians are expected to learn late Tuesday whether the cradle… Continue reading

Early, photogenic iceberg raises expectations for Newfoundland’s season

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — This historic port city welcomed an unexpected early… Continue reading

Captain Ghislaine Landry leads Canada to victory at Kitakyushu Sevens

KITAKYUSHU, Japan — Captain Ghislaine Landry scored with no time remaining and… Continue reading

Marchand scores twice as Bruins force a seventh game with 4-2 win over Leafs

TORONTO — After a flying start in front of a raucous home… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan’s royal baby: Questions asked and answered

LONDON — The time is drawing near for the impending birth of… Continue reading

Prince memoir ‘The Beautiful Ones’ coming out in the fall

NEW YORK — The memoir Prince was working on at the time… Continue reading

Most Read