Service dogs for those with Asperger’s Syndrome


CBS News Reports ‘Eleven-year-old Parker Weishaar is just about the most well-behaved kid you’ll ever meet — now. Parker has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports that one of the symptoms can be meltdowns.” His parents, Wendy and Mark, “couldn’t deal with it. We would have incidences in the classroom where he would kind of clear off the bookshelves.”

What worked for them was Candy. Not the sweet stuff — a dog … named Candy. She’s a certified assistance dog whose job basically is to be with Parker; to stick right by his side, 24/7.’

“She helps me, she calms me down, she lets me know she’s there when I’m about to have a meltdown,” Parker says.

Wendy and Mark got the dog about a year ago, and Parker hasn’t had an outburst since.

But that’s just half the story. Kids with autism have a lot of other issues, too — and for those, there’s this: dog agility. Parker says it was “really, extremely tough” to learn at first.

Although it’s generally the domain of middle-aged women, Parker’s mom says the sport is also “great” autism therapy.

“You’re doing speech therapy, you’ve got to get commands out … while you’re running … and you’ve got to keep your body in control when you don’t have good motor movement,” says Wendy.

Part of dog agility is learning how to handle disappointment — especially with this dog. She had yet to actually finish a course. But Parker didn’t seem to mind.

“Anybody who has autism, anybody in the world would just benefit from this,” Parker says. “She’s just like a healing dog.”

Healing for Parker. The idea is still new and unproven, but for one boy, on one day, there was never any doubt his dog had some kind of magic.

During her last race, something got into Candy. The dog that had never finished the course before did every “through” and made every “over.” It was an absolutely flawless performance.

Candy not only finished for the first time — she actually finished first, earning a kiss from Parker. That’s the kind of autistic outburst he and his family can live with.

14 thoughts on “Service dogs for those with Asperger’s Syndrome”


    • Darthcolin on February 9, 2015

      how do you get a service dog

      • ImeldaJace on February 9, 2015

        Usually through a nonprofit organization that trains and places service dogs with people with disabilities. You have to be careful with autism service dog organizations as there are unfortunately many in the U.S. that place dogs that are undertrained and/or do not legally qualify as service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many organizations unfortunately will only train autism service dogs for children. I’ve only heard of a couple organizations in the U.S. that place autism service dogs with adults.

        A really good website to checkout is They have a lot of great info on types of service dogs and how to find an organization and other service dog topics.

    • RebeccaK on November 27, 2015

      The service dogs are wonderful…..

    • There is Only One You on December 16, 2015

      I have one of these. But mine is a little thing weights like what 5 pounds?

    • StAySpUn on February 23, 2016

      My dog isn’t a service dog. I would love to get her registered but not sure how to go about it. Aside from being good for anti anxiety, she has gone to get help several times when I’ve had seizures. I live in Texas. If anyone has any information about how to register a service dog for such things, please let me know. She is super well behaved, trained to walk without a leash, learns quickly. She is 6 years old. I know that is old for a lot of training programs. But she IS really smart.

    • Stormtrooper420 on March 11, 2016

      I don’t know where I’d be without my big girl :). I trained her myself to fit my specific needs. You don’t NEED to send a dog to organizations to be trained and registered. All I got was a letter from my psychiatrist for a service dog and cat. Although I don’t think she really knew the ada laws, but only dogs and miniature ponies can be service animals.

    • Alleyjean on March 24, 2016

      StaySpun, I had looked into training for our Standard Poodle to become a service dog for our Aspie daughter’s therapeutic benefit. Our dog was around 2 years old at the time and everyone I contacted gave me a definitive NO because of his age (too old). So, I’m afraid you likely won’t have much luck with official service dog training, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a great dog who will be a wonderful companion for you! If you find anyone who is willing to work with older dogs, please let me know!

    • RTSD on June 25, 2016

      I have two service dogs, depending on the situation I am going into I either take the Chihuahua, BabyGirl or the American Staffishire Terrier Miss Piggitty with me. BabyGirl comes to the movies or to places where space is an issue. If I am going to be in an area or doing an activity where an outburst is likely I take Miss Piggitty, she is able to overpower me, get me to a sitting or laying possition and if necessarry in her doggie mind get me the heck out of dodge. She goes so far as to push the exit button on the trolley if I have momentarally forgotten how to for the moment.

    • JoveroIV on November 3, 2016

      I am actually training my dog to be a service dog right now. It is a stressful process and at times it can seem to be too much of a hassle…but then it just takes one freak out in a crowded area and I’m motivated to keep going on.

    • Boden on September 3, 2017

      You can train your own dog to be a service dog. There is no certification necessary. If you are physically or sensory disabled and your dog is trained to help you it is a service dog. My border collie is trained to interrupt me when I am being repetitive or collapsing inward with thought so I can remember to do all the things I need to do, exercise, do laundry, not browse the web all day.

      Since we have a sensory disability service dog status is granted to us by the ADA. This is not a psychological service dog or a emotional support dog, those are separate classes. For us they are service dogs.

    • Sprite on May 3, 2018

      I love this so much!

      I play agility and it’s helped me tremendously – at first I couldn’t even remember a sequence of three obstacles but using a guidebookI learned to memorize courses and now I compete at the highest levels.

      But most importantly, my second agility dog adjusts to me perfectly and she is almost always “clean” which gives me so much self confidence. I love her so much. She’s my best friend ❤️

    • Sprite on October 17, 2018

      I’m a middle aged aspie who absolutely loves training for and competing g in dog agility with my Two dogs. I think it’s an amazing form of therapy for spatial awareness among other things. This article warms my heart.

    • Katzumi on March 21, 2022

      I have two service dogs and we train for trick and fitness in between service training. Between my two sd, we have 32 titles. It’s an awesome way of teaching them focus and also helps to work off nervous energy for me.

    • its_riri on February 23, 2024

      I’m autistic and I have a lovely little service pup named Daisy! she’s a basset hound and she’s just the sweetest. I take her everywhere I can.

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Alex Plank

By alex
May 20, 2006

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