Signe Scott & Autism Assist Dog Luther
Aubrey and Chad Scott of Knife River, Minn. cannot believe the difference one dog has made in their lives. More importantly, they can’t believe the difference one dog has made for their daughter Signe.
Signe is seven-years old with an advanced intelligence beyond her age. She speaks multiple languages and will even teach herself new things when she becomes interested in a subject. Despite these gifts, Signe has autism, which creates a challenge in social situations. She works hard to verbally communicate, but developmental delays and delays in speech make it difficult for her to interact.
“Signe is misunderstood by most,” Signe’s mother Aubrey says. “But she deserves to be understood. She deserves to be given opportunities and the chance to open doors and grow.”
Common amongst children with autism, Signe has little sense of danger. She has trouble paying attention to what’s occurring around her and will bolt and run off in public. During times of frustration either in public or at home, she will scream and throws herself around—sometimes harming herself in the process. This has led the Scott family to live a limited life. They found themselves not leaving the house much, albeit for a quick day trip to visit family.
As the Scott’s began to research and learn more about autism, they saw a TV news story about how dogs can be trained to help children like Signe. This seemed like a logical next step as they had watched Signe bond with their pet dog, Abby. The two would run around, play together—Signe would laugh—she seemed at peace. So, they applied to Can Do Canines for help.
After four years of waiting, their patience was rewarded. Signe was partnered with a two-year-old black Labrador retriever named Luther. With Autism Assist Dog Luther by her side, Signe is able to overcome many of her past challenges.
One of the Scott’s biggest struggles before Luther joined the family was Signe’s sleeping pattern. “Signe tended not to sleep through the night,” her father Chad says. “When she wouldn’t get enough sleep the next day would be hard for her. The first night Luther was here she slept through the night.”
Not only has the family’s life improved at home, but they are less afraid of taking Signe in public. The family now takes weekend RV trips, goes out to restaurants, and even visits the grocery store with no stress.
“They’re a team,” says Aubrey of Signe and Luther. “They can walk and go places together. Something’s opened up for her, because of having him.”
Luther has helped to strengthen the family by being a positive presence during challenging times. When Signe is having a difficult moment, Luther knows how to keep her calm. Aubrey says that Signe is now able to overcome her frustrations much quicker. His presence has been stabilizing.
While Luther is very serious about the work he does for Signe, when it’s time to come home and take his vest off he loves to let loose and relax.
“I don’t know how to define it, but somehow he really complements Signe,” Chad says. “Somehow she’s more relaxed because of him. How he does that I don’t quite know.”
To all the people who helped them now live a more independent life, the Scott’s message is simple.
“Thank you,” Chad says. “This is huge for us.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser—The Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Institute at Waseca
Dog Source—Martha Anderson
Long-term Foster Homes—Jill & Bill Rost
Name-A-Puppy Donor—Greg & Cat Stevens