The DATA program aims to use dogs and dog agility to reduce the sensory chaos that individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often experience.

It has already been demonstrated that animals, including dogs and horses, can often open doors into the world of an individual with ASD. (Nuala Gardner author of friend Like Henry and Rupert Issacson author of The Horse Boy). DATA aims to build on the individual’s natural affinity with dogs to build on key skills that are linked to the triad of impairments.

The DATA programme facilitates a social connection/ partnership between the individual and the dog by providing the individual with ASD the mechanisms to create a successful relationship. This can provide the individual with social skills and confidence to engage with the wider world.

DATA also promotes meaningful language and communication skills. Vocal communication is encouraged as opportunities are provided for the pupil to make connections between their own vocalisation and the effect of the dog performing.

In order to prepare the individual for the experience of dog agility, there are structured stages built in to the DATA programme. Overall the experience should be fun and non-threatening for the individual and every effort is made to use the individual’s interests and unique qualities to create positive learning experiences.

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blaircoch@hotmail.com

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