This month's guest post is from a blogger I have mentioned many times here during the last couple of years. They won an Irish Blog Award earlier this year, so I thought it was time they introduced themselves in their own words.
"Greetings from Clive & Co over at Clive - Assistance Dog for Autism and many thanks for the opportunity to introduce ourselves and talk a little about assistance dogs, autism and the impact both have had on our lives. Three years ago we started blogging about Clive and Murray - our assistance dog and our son who has autism. Clive is 6 now, Murray is 13. Clive came into our lives five years ago and during that time a huge transformation has taken place in Murray. A lot of work has also taken place during that time too - lots of special needs schooling, lots of occupational therapy and speech therapy, lots of horse-riding and swimming and Special Olympics competitions but it's been the 'lots of Clive' that has really turned things around for Murray. Before Clive came into our lives - simple everyday tasks were difficult for Murray. He craved routine, familiarity, the safety of home. Taking him shopping, trying to stand in a queue, attempting to go to a football match - these were all things that Murray found extremely frightening and upsetting. He had little language to explain his fear, his sensitivity to noise and crowds, his nervousness of strangers - so Murray cried or screamed or got so upset at the idea of leaving the house - he threw up. We got so used to Murray getting sick that we couldn't remember a time when Murray didn't throw up at the idea of a change in routine. That was what life was like for our family or rather it was a lack of a life because we couldn't do much as a family. Murray has another sibling who didn't get much of look in with all that was going on with Murray.
Clive has changed that - Clive has transformed Murray - Clive has enabled Murray to lead a relatively normal life. When Murray has Clive with him - he feels secure, confident and is able to cope with a change in his surroundings, Murray can manage and now enjoy interaction with people outside of the house. From the days of not even being able to go to our local GAA club to watch Murray's sister play football - we can now go into Croke Park to cheer on Dublin! Over the past five years Murray's speech has come on hugely - Clive has helped that because Murray wanted to communicate with 'his dog' so having Clive with him 24/7 has helped develop Murray's language skills. Murray has become far more independent because of Clive - more independent than we ever thought possible - seeing him able to take Clive for a walk on his own this summer was a truly magical experience. An experience we would never have considered possible five years ago prior to Clive coming into our lives. Murray's confidence has grown hugely - he now engages willingly and happily with people outside the house. He is hugely proud of Clive and always willing to go places, try new things, meet new people. Clive has literally opened up the world for Murray! Clive has taken Murray to Spain, France, Belgium and the USA. A fellow blogger in the USA - reading Clive's blog in South Carolina has invited us over to her house for the past two summers. Clive and his blog have enabled Murray to experience new countries, new experiences - truly a whole new world. On the rare occasion that for some reason, Clive can't be with Murray - Murray can now accept and understand that and can carry on without Clive (once he knows Clive is safe and happy at home). Murray is a magical kid - a kid that has given his family so much pleasure over the past 13 years - he has enriched our lives and made all the family sit up and view the world a little differently. He has got his family involved in fundraising, autism awareness and supporting Irish Guide Dogs and the work they do. He has done all this and more because of that great golden shaggy dog that came home from Cork one June morning five years ago. If Murray is magical - then Clive is his 'magical' canine!
There are currently 175 assistance dogs around Ireland working with children like Murray. There are also over 200 children with autism on a waiting list for an assistance dog. The current wait time for an assistance dog is four years. That's a long time when you have a child with autism .... Many thanks for taking the time to read our guest post here on Jen's Blog. For more stories on Clive and the work he does as an assistance dog for autism - please check out his blog assistance dog for autism ."