WATCH: At Adam Beck Junior Public School in Scarborough, kids are learning more about their fellow student Reid and how he deals with autism every day with the help of his best friend Abel.
TORONTO – At Adam Beck Junior Public School in Scarborough, kids are learning more about their fellow student Reid and how he deals with autism every day with the help of his best friend Abel.
Abel is an autism assistance dog guide, who has been in Reid’s life since November 2014. Reid and his family received Abel through the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.
Reid’s mom, Jen Charron, has noticed a significant change in Reid’s behaviour since Abel has been with them. “Reid is an amazing kid. He’s very energetic…and sometimes he has a very hard time bringing his energy down especially in kinds of group situations…Abel’s like a calming presence. He’s just a big, soft, white, sweet, cuddly beast who Reid loves to be with.”
Ian Ashworth, the Director of Program Development at Dog Guides Canada, has been training dogs for over thirty years. “We train dogs to help children between three and 18 that…are on the autism spectrum disorder. The dog does numerous tasks for them and it helps them in lots and lots of different ways.”
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Rita Gallippi, Principal at Adam Beck Junior Public School, encourages acceptance at the school. “We are a school that has been building a lot of awareness around Autism…we do it through educating in our classrooms, so we ask that teachers constantly work with our students to build awareness about everything not just autism, but accepting all people, all children because we are all unique and different.”
Tomorrow, April 2nd, is “Light it Up Blue,” an international campaign that supports the autism community. To honour the day, students at Adam Beck will be doing their part by wearing blue.
Abel is doing his part too. He makes it easier for Reid and for his classmates to better understand what autism is all about by asking the important questions. Reid spoke in front of Adam Beck school yesterday to answer questions that his fellow classmates had about Abel and how this dog has changed his life.
Ashworth said that Abel and Reid make “a pretty good match. Very near perfect!”
Reid enjoys spending time cuddling with and receiving affection from Abel. He no longer feels lonely when he has his best friend at his side.
“Just so special, a huge improvement in my life…just a constant friend,” Reid said.