Seven-year-old boys life transformed by autism assistance dog

A seven-year-old boy's life has been transformed thanks to his autism assistance dog.

Following Franklin Jordan's autism diagnosis at the age of two, and later with learning difficulties and a sensory processing disorder, his parents Jo and Steve wanted to give Franklin the best possible life.

But one of the challenges the family, who live in Bolton, experienced was trying to get Franklin out and about going into shops, and going to new places.

Part of Franklin's autism means he is very sensitive to his surroundings and has to wear ear defenders, because everything seems too bright or too busy for him.

Jo said: “Before Thunda, at times we could never do things like going to the supermarket.

"Franklin could not cope with that.

"We could not get him out of the door.

"Now, thanks to the magic of Thunda he will go for walks, happily tethered to the dog.

"A simple trip to the supermarket is a run of the mill for most people but it’s amazing for us - we are starting small but hoping to build on this.”

Jo and Steve read about the charity, Support Dogs, in a magazine, and were matched with Thunda in Autumn 2020.

Training was carried out by the charity, and has been intense but thorough, with Jo as Thunda's main handler.

Jo said: "We’d never had a dog as a family, so were not sure how Franklin would react to it.

"We were accepted onto the programme, and although we had to wait a while due to lockdown, when they were matched, Franklin instantly bonded with Thunda; they seemed so comfortable together.

"When we go out Franklin needs Thunda.

"Even when Thunda is off the lead having some free time, he will look back to see Franklin, to check up on him.

“We always used to be anxious when we went out.

"It’s so different now, and I don’t think there could be a better dog for us."

Jo also created the blog, @spinning_in_circles on Instagram after Franklin's diagnosis to show other people the experience they had and to raise awareness.