Expert: Service dogs can help autistic children

A Paramus woman says her life has changed since a dog behaviorist worked with her autistic son and paired him with a service dog of his own. Janice Wolfe, who works as a canine behaviorist in Wyckoff,

News 12 Staff

Mar 9, 2009, 12:50 AM

Updated 5,606 days ago

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A Paramus woman says her life has changed since a dog behaviorist worked with her autistic son and paired him with a service dog of his own.
Janice Wolfe, who works as a canine behaviorist in Wyckoff, says she expanded her professional talents to help families with special needs. She rescues dogs, trains them and places them in homes with children with disabilities. Wolfe placed Emmy, a service dog, in Gabrielle Nitti's home to work with her son, Harry, who has autism.
"Harry is much more regulated when he's around Emmy, he has fewer and shorter tantrums," Nitti says.
Nitti says she works as a team with Emmy to keep track of Harry and make sure he feels comfortable and safe. Before her family owned the dog, Nitti says she couldn't leave Harry's side for any length of time. Wolfe believes the service dogs can benefit people with various disabilities, not solely the blind.
"To me, autistic children need medication and the medication isn't always out of a bottle," Wolfe says. "It can look like this; it can look like a dog."
Wolfe, who is a cancer survivor and says she understands how unaffordable health care can be, places the dogs in homes for free. She is always looking for volunteers who can house the dogs while she trains them.


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