Severely autistic Leeds boy gets a furry companion

DOG: Alexander Duthie's mum, Anna (centre) with trainee Support Dog Chester and charity staff.
DOG: Alexander Duthie's mum, Anna (centre) with trainee Support Dog Chester and charity staff.
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A Leeds boy with severe autism is to get help from a support dog.

Alexander Duthie’s condition means he has no concept of personal safety but Chester the dog will help prevent the five-year-old from coming to harm, like blocking him from running into traffic.

The canine companion has been provided by Support Dogs thanks to a grant from the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation.

Foundation vice-chairman Richard Stroud said: “We have seen for ourselves the tremendous work that Support Dogs does and how these dogs can make a vast difference to life, not only for the children who are supported but for the whole family. We are delighted to be able to help another child by contributing to the cost of training for a new dog.”

The foundation has worked with the Support Dogs charity in the past and this will be the fourth child it has supported.

Autism assistance dogs not only help with safety but have been shown to reduce children’s stress and reduce the sensory overload from which so many suffer. It can form a link between a child with autism and the world around them.

Alexander’s dog, Chester, is currently in training.

Support Dogs have become a common feature at Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation events, including the annual awards in November, which is the main fundraiser for the foundation. The awards were founded in 1993 to celebrate the achievement of Yorkshire’s young people and to raise money for children’s charities in the county.

Due to the success of the awards, the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation was founded in 2010 to further support charitable projects for young people in the Yorkshire region.