PAWSITIVE CONNECTIONS We are proud to offer our therapeutic Pawsitive Connections (PC) program to support communities on the autism spectrum and with developmental disabilities.
PLEASE NOTE: Pawsitive Connections is currently on hold for the 2023-2024 school year. To inquire about service dog education for your school, please contact Shelby Cramer at [email protected].
As part of FSD’s mission to provide highly skilled assistance dogs to individuals with disabilities, we believe in supporting not only the dogs’ development, but also the development of specialized populations in our local community. In that spirit, FSD offers Pawsitive Connections (PC), a therapeutic program designed to support children and youth on the autism spectrum and with other developmental or intellectual disabilities.
Studies have demonstrated the many benefits of human-animal interaction, and FSD shares that benefit through our Pawsitive Connections program. This innovative program combines therapeutic group discussions with the opportunity for participants to work with our service dogs in training, utilizing specially designed animal-assisted activities meant to stimulate learning and growth. During the program, participants explore a variety of topics, including empathy, social interactions, communication skills, empowerment, confidence, emotional recognition and regulation, and more.
Participants meet with FSD staff, assisted by interns from the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, once a week for six to 10 weeks, depending on the group’s needs. Sessions take place in participating schools’ special-education classrooms or on location at our community partner agencies. PC participants range in age from elementary school to young adult, and we provide customized curriculums to meet the needs of different ages and settings.
In the spring of 2019, the Kathy and Jerry Wood Foundation made a $20,000 grant to FSD to help our PC program bring the benefits of animal-human interaction to children and young adults our community. This generous grant will assist with the costs of program staff, equipment, educational supplies, transportation, school outreach, printing costs, professional development, and evaluation.