SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) – Diego Rosales was so terrified during his dental appointments when he was 4 that he kept biting his dentist.
Today, the 9-year-old is far calmer, soothed by the presence of “Zucca,” a black Labrador that helps children like him with autism face one of their worst fears.
A visit to the dentist can be daunting for any child, but it’s especially so for many with autism. They can be upset by the lights in their faces or frightened by the noises of the instruments. Some have to be sedated.
Therapy dogs have been used in many countries to calm autistic children and aid people with numerous other conditions. Raul Varela began the practice in Chile after noticing that his autistic child’s social interactions improved after spending time with the family’s black Labrador.
Varela quit his job and got certified by Spain-based Bocalan as a therapy dog trainer for children with …