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Animal Assisted Education Programme for Neurodivergent students

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 03/04/2024. Animal Assisted Education Programme for Neurodivergent studentsTags: Parents Teachers

Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland (AADI) has announced the introduction of its new Animal Assisted Education Programme, which is supported by the Royal Canin Foundation in collaboration with University College Cork. The pioneering initiative aims to enhance the learning experience for neurodivergent primary and secondary school students in Ireland and support inclusivity in educational environments.
Welcoming the new initiative, educational assistance dog instructor with AADI Nadine Bohane said: “Witnessing the transformation in classrooms with our trained dogs is remarkable. Their presence not only soothes but also engages students in unique ways, fostering an environment where learning thrives.”
Also commenting, general manager of Royal Canin Ireland Nick Foster said: “The Royal Canin Foundation funds projects globally which demonstrate the role that cats and dogs can play in our own health and wellbeing, and I could not think of a better example of a worthwhile project than AADI’s Animal Assisted Education Programme. We have been the charity’s nutritional partner for a number of years, fuelling the dogs as they go about their incredible work in improving the lives of children with autism. I am excited for how this project will play a role in improving the lives of neurodivergent pupils in primary and secondary schools across Ireland.”
Enhancing educational experiences
The Animal Assisted Education Programme introduces school support dogs that can have a calming effect on students with behavioural or learning difficulties. This can provide a myriad of benefits, including improved attendance, heightened engagement, increased willingness to participate in classroom activities, and a significant reduction in stress levels.
Emphasising the programme’s potential impact, head of fundraising and communications with AADI David McCarthy said: “The programme aims to play a pivotal role in promoting inclusivity, and raising awareness about neurodiversity and autism. It can not only enhance the individual experiences of neurodivergent students but also serve as a beacon of community engagement and societal progress.”
Mr McCarthy continued: “Our collaboration with University College Cork aims to produce compelling research that will advocate for national funding. We're incredibly grateful to the Royal Canin Foundation for joining us in our mission to create accessible educational opportunities for all students.”
Long-term vision
The programme’s long-term goal is to establish a framework where every neurodivergent student in Ireland has the support needed to thrive academically and socially. By aligning with educational and societal objectives, AADI is not just aiming to enhance individual experiences but to also contribute to a more empathetic, understanding and inclusive future.
AADI is encouraging schools, educators and communities to participate and witness the positive change that can be brought about by its new Animal Assisted Education Programme.

About Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland (AADI):
AADI is committed to enhancing the lives of families living with autism, advocating for their rights, and promoting inclusivity across Ireland with the help of highly trained assistance dogs. Learn more at


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