Teenager’s school help - from pet dog

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A teenager with Asperger’s syndrome is going back to school – with a little help from his pedigree chum.

Fourteen-year-old Nick Gilling from Yeadon had developed a fear of going to school or even leaving the house.

But when his beloved corgi Sally donned a uniform, he couldn’t wait to get to his classes at Leeds North West Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre.

Nick’s delighted parents Tessa, 45, and Tim, 49, say four-and-a-half year-old Sally, whose grandfather was a stud to the Queen’s corgis, is even starting to play cards with him.

Tessa said: “One morning, I got Sally dressed up in Nick’s uniform. He thought it was hilarious. He burst out laughing at her. But it was literally an instant reaction – he agreed to wear his school uniform that day to school. It was an amazing breakthrough.

“We’re also training Sally to play cards with Nick. It’s a long process, but dogs generally pick things up quickly, and it’s really good in helping Nick interact with people.”

Tessa, an Ambassador for the National Autistic Society, had heard from the Dogs for the Disabled charity that Nick may respond through his dog.

She said: “Nick was very reluctant to go outside. If I ever tried to get him to go anywhere, it would take hours to get him into the car and he never wanted to go out. But once we got Sally, he wanted to go out because it was for her.”

Nick added: “Sally makes me feel safe when I’m out and when I talk to the people I meet in the street. She has changed my life and makes me smile every day.”

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