Valley family seeks help for autism therapy dog - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Valley family seeks help for autism therapy dog

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AHWATUKEE, AZ (CBS5) -

It's called dog therapy and it's used to help treat kids with autism. It has lots of benefits but buying one comes with a whopping price tag.

"Lucas is 6 years old. He's a sweet and smart little boy," said Gabriella Bryan, Lucas' mother.

"He almost never gets mad at anybody," said his father Curtis Bryan. "That's part of his condition because he has autism."

Lucas also has celiac disease and has a seizure disorder. His parents say he's not as verbal as other kids his age, he has a short attention span and his hyperactivity can sometimes get him into trouble.

"He does not understand danger. If we open the door he will run towards the street," said Gabriella Bryan.

"We're constantly worrying. Like when we go to bed, 'have we locked all the doors?' We have to put special locks on," said Curtis Bryan.

But Lucas calms down a lot when it's time for dog therapy. The dogs go through thousands of hours of training to help children with autism. They're also trained to spot seizures and curb destructive behavior and repetitive movements.

"Some kids with autism need the dog that will push them a little bit out of their comfort zone, some need the calming presence," said Arizona Guldens' Brian Daugherty. The company trains these service dogs. 

At $22,000, these dogs aren't cheap. Daugherty says the cost is so high because training them is so expensive. He says sometimes insurance covers it, but not always.

"It's hard for us to know that there's something out there that can help him and we can't do it," said Gabriella Bryan.

The Bryan family has about $1,000 saved up for a dog and hope they can add one to their family in the near future.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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