A child with autism overcame his fear of books and has slowly learned to read. It was all possible thanks to the help, encouragement and support of two Dalmatians.
Keaton Cook, 8, used to have a meltdown whenever he saw books. As a result, he struggled with reading and writing as seeing books stressed him out. His reading skills remained at the pre-school level at his age, Inside Edition reported.
That all changed, however, when his mom Gemma Cook brought home two Dalmatians. A school psychologist advised the mom to try service dogs to help Keaton manage his stress triggers.
"I kind of made it so he would feel like he was helping the dogs and making them feel calm," Gemma said. "I told him that the dogs loved to hear kids read." The idea worked, much to her surprise.
The dogs, Charlie, 3 and Dotty, 6, sat in front of Keaton each time he read. In one instance, Gemma filmed her son reading one book from cover to cover as the dogs listened.
Back then, Keaton won't even finish reading a pre-school book. Having the the dogs around, however, encouraged him to press on. "By the end they were cuddled up to him, looking in the book too and really listening to him read," the mom said, according to Daily Mail.
Gemma saw that it's not just Keaton's reading skills and habits that improved within the short months of having the dogs. The child with autism made two best friends who would respond to his emotional needs quite well.
"He talks to them a lot, and he tells everyone he understands them," the mom shared. "They'll climb all over him and cuddle up to him," she said, adding she read about animal therapy and she's thrilled it's working for her son. The dogs know when Keaton has a bad day and they would help the 8-year-old deal with it.