PUPPY LOVE: Animal control officer finds furry friend for Paterson boy with autism

One of Paterson’s youngest residents now has a new companion to help him cope with autism.

News 12 Staff

Jul 8, 2022, 2:27 AM

Updated 705 days ago

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One of Paterson’s youngest residents now has a new companion to help him cope with autism.
It all started at the Louise Fava Animal Shelter in Paterson three months ago with a tip from a neighbor.
Three-year-old Juan Carmona is like many boys his age. He likes to tumble and jump and is curious. But just before he turned 3, the boy was diagnosed with autism, mixed receptive expressive language disorder, sensory integration disorder and fine motor development delay.
It was following this diagnosis that a friend reached out to John DeCando, Paterson’s chief Animal Control officer.
“I received a letter from one of the parishioners from the diocese saying that they have an autistic friend’s son that needs some companionship,” DeCando says.
The Carmona family then got a letter from their health care provider that said given Juan's diagnosis, a dog would be beneficial. The letter goes on to say that children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder often respond well to the comfort of an animal.
Juan Carmona was able to meet his new furry friend Max on Wednesday.
“When one door closes, another one opens…The look on that kid’s face and touching the dog – the mother and father…crying happy,” DeCando says.
The boy’s parents say that they already see a change in their son.
And as Juan and Max get bigger, the parents hope to move from their one-bedroom apartment to something more spacious. They plan to get Max certified as a service animal to make looking for a new home easier.


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