Autistic teen learns life skills as Humane Society volunteer
PETE FISHER Northumberland Today.comChad Maddock walks his favourite dog, Oliver, accompanied by Ryan King.
PETE FISHER Northumberland Today.com
Chad Maddock walks his favourite dog, Oliver, accompanied by Ryan King.
PORT HOPE - For Newcastle resident Chad Maddock, helping at the Northumberland Humane Society for the past year is more than just volunteer work.
The 14-year-old lives with autism and his helper, Ryan King, says it's Chad's favourite thing to do.
Through a company called Autism Partnership, the Northumberland Humane Society agreed to allow Chad to volunteer for two hours every other Saturdays.
Autism Partnership has arranged for King to assist Chad at home and in Port Hope.
Although working from home on life skills, using flash cards, is important, King says, "the second half of that is getting him into the community and getting him life skills that he can take on.
"Looking after dogs can translate later on into him looking after himself."
More important than the skills Chad's learning while counting the dogs, methodically cleaning out their stalls, feeding them and taking them for walks, is that he loves what he's doing.
"At home we're always showing him how to do things, but here, this is his thing and he's in control," King says.
"His favourite part is when all the food is ready to go, he'll pull the lever and all the dogs will come in and eat."
Chad even has a special bowl for his favourite dog, Oliver.
"He's always excited to come," King says of Chad's visits to the shelter.
"He loves animals and he can't wait."
Northumberland Humane Society shelter supervisor Lynne Brightman says Chad is "amazing."
"He definitely has love for the animals. You can see his expression change," she says. "They get adopted eventually, and he has to get used to that, but new ones come in."
Although the program isn't scheduled to end any time soon, Brightman says Chad is more than welcome to help at the Humane Society for as long as he wants.
"He's like an extra pair of hands. He's part of the team."