For Rangiora-based mum Belinda, seemingly simple daily routines such as going to the supermarket or getting a good night's sleep were a foreign concept. Her 9-year-old son Corlan lives with multiple disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing disorder (SPD) and global developmental delay (GDD). He also has ARFID, a sensory eating disorder that involves aversion to the smell, taste, and texture of foods.
Consequently, life has come with some extra challenges for their family. Ever since toddlerhood, Corlan felt exceptionally anxious during the night, waking multiple times for comfort. Trips to get groceries and routine visits to the doctor and hospital would almost always result in meltdowns or challenging behaviours.
Two years ago, ADNZT Rhys joined them and their lives were transformed almost immediately. Rhys brought about so many changes - having Rhys next to Corlan made it possible for him to fall asleep much faster and sleep more soundly. Within the first month of their four-legged friend joining them, the family were finally able to go to the supermarket together without having meltdowns or battling to get out the door. Rhys drastically reduced the stress levels in the house and made going out a significantly more enjoyable experience for all. Corlan has also visited the dentist with Rhys, despite not liking his face being touched, and has even ascended the Christchurch Gondola, an activity Belinda never thought she would be able to do with her son.
Rhys is not only therapeutic for Corlan, but for the whole family. Each morning, Corlan readily greets his mum, showing his excitement and love – something he wasn’t able to express before. For Belinda, experiencing her son greeting her with such joy and excitement is completely life-changing. For both her and her son, the benefits of having an assistance dog have been immeasurable.