Registration for PAWS Sessions are currently closed

Due to the overwhelming amount of interest and immense success of our Autism Assistance Dog program, applications are currently closed. We have made the difficult decision not to run any PAWS Workshops at this time while we endeavour to match our dogs to clients currently on our waiting list. We feel it is not in the best interests of future clients to keep applications open, as this would result in an unrealistic timeframe to receive an Assistance Dog. This page will be updated as soon as we reopen the application process.

Children and families living with Autism program

Autism is a persistent developmental disorder, evident from early childhood, that affects almost 1 in every 150 Australian children. True to our pioneering nature, Assistance Dogs Australia have been on the front line of training and placing dogs with children with Autism in Australia. Our program considers applications regardless of race, gender or religion.

Once placed with their new Assistance Dog, children with Autism show remarkable improvement across their social, verbal and cognitive skills, as well as the ability to learn routines and structures that aid development, communication and community interaction.

Additionally, one of the most rewarding elements of this kind of placement is the impact our dogs have on the entire family. Often siblings of children with disabilities undergo stress and isolation from other family members, but our very special dogs have a habit of bringing families back together — providing assistance for kids in need, but also companionship, improved sleep, peace of mind and stability for the entire household.

An Autism Service Dog can provide support in the following areas:

  • Communication skills
  • Confidence and independence
  • Empathy to new situations
  • Emotional understanding
  • Social relationships
  • Tactile perception
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Provide routine and stability
  • Environmental understanding
  • Self-esteem
  • Family relationships
  • Behaviour patterns

An Autism Service Dog has full public access rights meaning they are allowed in any public place* and on all public transport. It is illegal to refuse entry to a Service Dog.

*The only exceptions are zoos, aquariums, sterile environments, food preparation areas and quarantine areas.

People who receive an Autism Service Dog are provided with a photographic identity badge as proof of Service Dog status, which they must take with them in public, and a Service Dog jacket for the dog.

Children and families living with Autism Services

PAWS Workshop

We know that each child on the autism spectrum is different, and so before applying for an Autism Service Dog, parents are required to attend a PAWS Workshop with Assistance Dogs Australia. These workshops are a great chance to meet our staff and explore how an Autism Service Dog will work within the family.

Autism Assistance Dogs Program and the NDIS

Assistance Dogs Australia is a registered provider of services under the NDIS. We offer various services under the Autism Assistance Dogs Program which are potentially claimable from an NDIS plan. Our team can assist you to understand the funding areas in your child’s plan that can be utilised towards participation in the program. We can also provide assistance and advice in preparing a request to apply for specific funding in the plan for the costs associated with the Autism Assistance Dogs Program.

How can I apply for an Autism Assistance Dog?

To express your interest in an Autism Assistance Dog, parents must attend our PAWS workshops.

Am I eligible?

These workshops are open to parents of children from 5 years old, with a clinical diagnosis of autism. Families are welcome whether they have a pet dog or not.

Will my pet dog get public access rights?

Pet dogs will not receive public access rights or become registered assistance dogs.

I don’t yet have a pet dog. Do I need to get one before I attend the workshops?

Owning a pet dog is not a requirement. We have designed workshops for both families who do not yet have a dog but are considering giving a home to one, as well as those families who already have a dog in the home.

Will you supply a pet dog for me?

We’re unable to supply a pet dog for you as each family will have different requirements and preferences and so will be suited to different dogs. The workshops will cover information on topics such as factors to consider when thinking about getting a pet dog, what type of dog to look for, and the options for sourcing a dog. Find out more about the workshops here.

How do I attend the PAWS Workshops?

Due to the success of our programme, applications are now closed. We will update our website when we have more information on other session availability.

Is there a cost for joining the PAWS Project?
The cost to attend the workshops is $522 which is claimable under an NDIS plan through the Capacity Building budget – Improved Daily Living. If you do not currently have NDIS funding then please contact us to discuss your options.
There is also an additional levy to cover catering and consumables of $75 for 1 attendee or $125 for 2 attendees from the same family. This cost is not claimable through the NDIS.
Will I be able to bring my child along to the workshops?

Unfortunately we are not able to offer childcare during the workshops. The workshops are designed to provide parents with the necessary information and experience to take home with them to introduce to the rest of the family. 

Will I be able to bring my pet dog along to the workshops?

For a number of reasons, including not having the necessary facilities, we do not allow pet dogs to attend workshops. We will provide dogs for practical elements where appropriate.

Will I be able to purchase materials and access support without attending the workshops?

Due to the nature of the PAWS Project, it is necessary for at least one parent to attend all three workshops.

Workshops will include a considerable amount of demonstrations, discussions and opportunities for practical dog handling, and so the support materials alone will not be sufficient to cover the PAWS Project.

It costs over $60,000 to train and place an Assistance Dog.

Your donation helps covers training, vaccinations, food and equipment for an Assistance Dog, who is given to a client free of charge.

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