Dalmatians Help 8-Year-Old With Autism Read After He Previously Suffered Severe Meltdowns
His mom has called it a miracle.
When Gemma Cook bought two Dalmatians years ago, she couldn’t have imagined the dogs would change her son’s life.
Cook’s 8-year-old son, Keaton, who has autism and sensory issues, has struggled to read aloud for a long time, as the sight of a book would cause him to have a meltdown.
"He gets stressed because he struggles to read and write. He’s very behind his peers," Cook, 34, told InsideEdition.com.
Keaton reads at a pre-school level. Getting him to read has been a battle at home and school for years, according to Cook, but recently something miraculous happened.
In a video captured last month of the heartwarming moment, the family's dogs, 6-year-old Dotty and 3-year-old Charlie, sit quietly as Keaton reads to them out loud.
Cook had gotten the idea to try to use the dogs as encouragement for Keaton after a school psychologist suggested getting a service dog to help him read, but the wait list for such a companion was way too long.
"I wanted to see if it could work with our dogs. I kind of made it so he would feel like he was helping the dogs and making them feel calm. I told him that the dogs loved to hear kids read," said Cook. "So he started reading and the dogs came over and just sat next to him. They just sat there and listened to him.”
Cook said she was very surprised when it worked.
And it hasn’t stopped there, as Keaton has read to the dogs every other evening since.
"Every time he sits to read they do the same thing. It’s really emotional to see. It has made him feel really proud of himself and boosted his self-esteem, which is good," Cook said.
Cook said she thinks Keaton’s already strong bond with the dogs has contributed to the incredible achievement.
"It's like the dogs have a sixth sense," Cook said. "They can sense when Keaton’s not okay or if he's having a bad day, and they’ll try to help him. It’s lovely to have that.
"He has a very close bond with the dogs. He struggles with making friends, and if you asked him he’ll always say that the dogs are his best friends.”
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