From Service Dog Central: (Bolding Mine)
There is a mistaken belief that people with Autism have issues feeling emotions. Autism was once considered a type of mental illness, but it is now recognized as a sensory processing disorder
. People with Autism Spectrum Disorders may experience difficulty recognizing and processing subtle social cues in facial expression, body language, inflection, and intonation which results in confusion in learning how to recognize and exhibit expressions of emotions, but not the feelings of those emotions.
Other sensory processing disorders include blindness (vision processing) and deafness (auditory processing). Service dogs can be trained for some people with Autism to help them gain independence, confidence, and the ability to perform activities of daily living that they could not otherwise perform. For the most part these dogs are trained to perform tasks similar to those of service dogs for other sensory processing disabilities.
A guide dog for a person who is blind signals the handler when the team approaches an intersection so that the handler knows to stop and check for traffic. An Autism dog might be trained to do the exact same task, except that instead of giving visual information ("I see an intersection"), the dog gives prioritizing information ("I recognize a situation that requires focused processing")
An Autism service dog might signal the handler of important sounds, like that of a smoke alarm. When a person is trying to process 20 different things, including the sounds of crickets, a smoke alarm, the smell of the fabric softener on the sheets, the feel of the fabric on his or her skin, and so on, it may take that person a while to get down the list to the really important information: the smoke alarm. Those without processing impairments automatically recognize the urgency of the smoke alarm, but many with Autism cannot do so without careful consideration.
They certainly know what it means and that it is urgent, but they must think it through step-by-step to arrive at the conclusion that a speedy exit is required. As with a person who is deaf, a trained service dog can signal the person with Autism of an important event, such as a smoke alarm, the phone ringing, someone at the door, the alarm clock, the kitchen timer, the baby crying, etc. The dog's signal to the handler reminds the handler to drop all other processing and focus on the sound being indicated by the dog.
To read this article in full go to Autism Service Dogs | Service Dog Central
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