28/04/2017 11:03 BST

Mum Credits Therapy Dog For Transforming The Life Of Her Son With Autism: 'It's Overwhelming'

'Caddie keeps me calm and keeps me safe.'

A mum has revealed how a pet dog transformed the life of her seven-year-old son who has autism.

She explained her son, Joel, found going outside a “challenge” and holding her hand “impossible”.

But once they invited a dog, Caddie, into the family, everything seemed to change.

“The first day we met Caddie it was just amazing,” said Joel’s mum, Janet.

“Joel agreed to go outside into the garden - something he’d refused to do for months - and played with Caddie with a ball.

“My husband Kevin broke down in tears when he saw it; we both knew Caddie was going to transform our lives.” 

Joel’s story was shared on the Love What Matters Facebook page on 26 April.

Janet said as soon as they got the dog, all the “first-time experiences” rolled in, as her son started doing things he’d never done before - such as going into a café to order a drink and willingly opened his mouth during a trip to the dentist.

“It’s overwhelming the difference Caddie has made,” she said. “The focus has shifted away from Joel and laughter has returned to the family. Kevin and I are so much more relaxed.

“Caddie has opened up the world to us and to Joel. He rests his head on Joel if he feels anxious, or even lies on him, which Joel finds deeply reassuring.

“We’re all excited to see Joel’s next new achievement with Caddie by his side.”

Joel said: “I find everything hard, but Caddie keeps me calm and keeps me safe.”

The post has had more than 11,000 likes in two days. Parents replied with their own stories of how therapy dogs have helped their children.

“My son Avery has his dog Isabel,” one mum wrote. “When we adopted her this year, we quickly realised she needed her companion, Sophie too. So we got them both.

“We knew that Avery needed some treatment for mental health, but little did we know his life would be completely transformed because of our pups.”

Another parent commented: “This is wonderful and reminds me of my daughter wth her puppy, back 20 years ago, who helped her with her autism.

“Thank you so much for sharing - definitely brought a tear to my eye. I’m so happy for Joel and for the rest of you.”

Also on HuffPost
Photo gallery Dad's Photo Series Highlights The Many Faces Of Autism See Gallery