Years ago, Gemma Cook though the two Dalmatians she was inviting into her house would simply just be great pets. But as just so happened, they ended up completely changing her son’s life. And for the better.
Cook’s 8-year-old boy, Keaton, was diagnosed with autism years ago and suffers from sensory issues. His condition made it difficult for the child to read aloud. Because it was not easy for him, books became a source of torture. And every time he saw one, Keaton descended into an unstoppable meltdown.
Cook, who is an avid reader herself and believes that books are great for children, really wanted her boy to learn to love books. But his autism made the challenge nearly impossible. At least until Keaton started to read to the family’s two Dalmatians. That changed everything…
Just seeing a book used to stress the boy out. As Cook, 34, told Inside Edition, “He gets stressed because he struggles to read and write. He’s very behind his peers.”
Although he goes to school and Cook tries to keep him up on his reading skills at home, Keaton reads at a pre-school level. His battle to read better has plagued the house for years.
But then Cook saw something miraculous happening.
She took out her camera and captured the heartwarming moment. In the video, you can see Keaton reading to the family’s two Dalmatians, 6-year-old Dolly and 3-year-old Charlie. Both dogs are lying around Keaton as the 8-year-old reads out loud to the gentle canines.
Using the dogs was not a random incident. Cook got the idea after a child psychologists suggested that Keaton gets a service dog because they have been proven to help children read. But the waiting list to get one was much too long and Cook needed to help her son quickly before he fell further behind his peers.
“I wanted to see if it could work with our dogs. I kind of made it so he would feel like he was helping the dogs and making them feel calm. I told him that the dogs loved to hear kids read,” said Cook. “So he started reading and the dogs came over and just sat next to him. They just sat there and listened to him.”
Cook was shocked when it worked. Now, Keaton reads to his family’s dogs every evening.
“Every time he sits to read they do the same thing. It’s really emotional to see. It has made him feel really proud of himself and boosted his self-esteem, which is good,” Cook said.
Because Keaton already had a strong bond with the dogs, Cook thinks this made it easier for him to start reading to them.
“It’s like the dogs have a sixth sense,” Cook said. “They can sense when Keaton’s not okay or if he’s having a bad day, and they’ll try to help him. It’s lovely to have that. He has a very close bond with the dogs. He struggles with making friends, and if you asked him he’ll always say that the dogs are his best friends.”
Watch the video report below to witness the inspiring moment!
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