We unleash the potential of shelter dogs by transforming them into custom-trained, life-changing assistance dogs for people in need.

Disco’s Dogs

The Disco’s Dogs program at Freedom Service Dogs of America provides specially trained service dogs and skilled companion dogs for individuals age five and up with autism related differences.

Service Dog
Public access service dogs will be matched with you to align your family’s needs with the dog’s temperament, you must attend a six week training course, a four week task training course, and a 12 week public access training course. The 12 week course will focus on outings in public to help you and your dog acclimate to public settings, understanding the ADA rules for a public access dog, and how to handle certain situations while out in public with your dog. There will be homework for you during this time as collectively between class time and your own outings, you must log 120 collaborative relationship and training hours with 30 of those hours working with your dog in public settings.

Upon completion of the six week course, completion of the four week task course, and the 12 week public access class, you will graduate with other service dog teams representing all the programs of Freedom Service Dogs.

Skilled Companion Dog
Skilled Companion dogs (those without public access) will be matched with you to align your family’s needs with the dog’s temperament, and a mandatory ten week training course with our qualified service dog trainers.

How can service dogs help children with autism or other neurocognitive disabilities?

  • Dogs can be calming
    • They can provide a sense of security by being a constant in the children’s daily activities at home and beyond. They calm children with autism by placing their heads on the children’s laps or by leaning into them.
      • In many cases, the dogs take the place of a weighted blanket by placing half of their bodies on the laps of the children.
    • They can reduce emotional outbursts by redirecting children’s attention.
    • They can nudge children during repetitive or stimming (self-soothing) behaviors to interrupt the behavior.
  • They can bridge social gaps
    • Dogs can help improve social skills by creating a link between children with autism and the community.
    • They can improve communication skills and behavior.
  • They can help children focus
    • Dogs can increase focus on homework, projects, and social tasks.
  • They can help with therapy
    • Dogs can be used during therapy to help increase speech production, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills.

About Disco’s Dogs

Through an acquisition merger in August 2017, Freedom Service Dogs of America combined forces with Disco’s Dogs in order to grow and improve the services provided to families with children on the autism spectrum and with other neurocognitive disabilities. Disco’s Dogs was founded in 2013 by Laura Edwards with the mission to adopt dogs from shelters and then train each one individually alongside families for six months. The result: skilled service dogs for children challenged by disabilities, primarily autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities.

As Laura explains, she and her family had a very personal reason for starting Disco’s Dogs: “In 2009, we heard that a service dog could help our son with challenges he faced at the time with sensory processing integration and ADHD. We quickly learned that many organizations are doing amazing things across the country, but there were waitlists of two or more years and price tags ranging between $16,000 and $25,000. Many organizations would not place a dog with a child under 15 years old, and our son was only five at the time. After a lot of thought and research we decided that two to five years was a long time to a young life and the price tag was unobtainable considering the amount other therapies cost our family. But we didn’t give up and our continued research brought us to the Prison Trained K9 Companion Program who, at the time, trained special skilled companion dogs for children with autism-related challenges. We were thrilled to find this amazing resource right in our own back yard and shortly thereafter, our son had additional support from his new fur-friend, Disco. The first night Disco was home with us, our son was able to stay asleep for the first time—all night!”

Prior to the merger, FSD served clients with autism spectrum disorder in a limited capacity, working with young adults, age 12 and older. By partnering with Disco’s Dogs and relying on their expertise and training model, we are able to improve the services we provide and expand our reach—especially in the area of helping children on the autism spectrum and with other neurocognitive disabilities. The Disco’s Dogs program at FSD will continue to serve the Colorado community through this innovative program that focuses on support, education, inclusion, and life-changing canine friends.

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