Jacob  has a severe form of autism and since the age of seven, his support dog Minta  has been changing his life and opening up his world.

Jacob’s autism meant that he struggled to communicate or express feelings in a way that is understood by others. For his mother Susan the heartbreaking part of his condition was that Jacob was a very lonely and isolated little boy who rarely smiled.

But after Minta entered their lives in 2013 the change in Jacob was phenomenal.

“Jacob was a very lonely little boy who had no friends. It was horrible to see how isolated and lonely he was,"says Susan. For the family it was difficult because everyday life would cause him great stress and he became distraught even going to the shops. This meant my life had to be regimented to reduce this stress as much as possible.

“When Minta entered our family our lives were changed and the change in Jacob was phenomenal. Firstly, there was the difference she made in everyday life. Now when we need to go to the shops or want to go on a family day out we tell Jacob that Minta wants to go and he doesn’t become stressed. Even when Minta is not around, knowing she is close by keeps Jacob happy and calm.”

"The difference is incredible. He will happily stand and talk to strangers because he’s proud of Minta."

The most amazing thing for Susan is how much Minta has opened up Jacob’s world. “Before when we went out in public Jacob would want to be invisible, he would become very distressed if people wanted to talk to him but now the difference is incredible. If people stop to talk to him about Minta he will happily stand and talk to strangers because he’s proud of Minta. I can’t put into words how incredible this is to watch, to go from wanting to be invisible to growing in confidence every day and wanting the world to see you. It’s amazing!”

Autism assistance dogs are trained to provide safety and to facilitate a more independent and socially inclusive life for both the child with autism and their family. In Jacob’s case, a Support Dog can provide comfort for a child that no one and nothing else can.

For Susan, her once lonely little boy is now a happy 11-year-old boy because his best friend is Minta.

“Every Jacob needs a Minta. They are best friends.”

While Minta is a trained autism assistance dog it is her natural instinct to care for Jacob that makes this relationship so special. “If Jacob is sick or sad, she is there, without being told to do this," says Susan. "He loves her and she loves him. Minta is the best medicine.”

Jacob used to attend a special school  for children with autism, but he now attends a mainstream secondary school, where he is coping and doing well. His level of understanding has improved enormously  and he has gained 'phenomenal, mind-blowing confidence' given to him by his support dog.

As he has got older Jacob has become more socially aware, and the family are aware that as Jacob becomes an adolescent, things will inevitably change.Susan adds:"Jacob is a different child to how he used to be.  We couldn't get him to go to the shop for a pint of milk, but now he can go to the shops independently, without the dog, and pay for things without cash or a card. I can't believe he  can do that. It's been real progress, and he could never have done that without her.

"We've used Minta as a tool to make the world accessible  to Jacob and that's what she's done."

You can sponsor Minta here

Apply for our autism assistance programme