Interview published in "Sámur" magazines of the Icelandic Kennel Club in September 2013
Stefsstells Skrúður reduces autism
Elsa Lind Þorvaldsdóttir, 9-year student at the Grammar School in Hafnarfjordur, has achieved great success in its struggle with autism by working with the Icelandic Sheepdog Stefsstells Skrúð. Elsa Lind, who last year whispered just individual words to teachers, talks aloud in school.
The dog Skrúður came into the life of Elsa Lind when she was two years old. Several dogs were at home and managed Elsa Lind immediately a good relationship with all of them but the relationship between Skrúður and Elsa Lind was still quite unique though Elsa Lind spoke nothing to him to begin with. Skrúður chased her around the house and lies next to her at night.
Elsa Lind's is Elmu Cates granddaugter and Skrúður owner. "Elsa Lind has autism, she whent into her own world and did not express herselves much, but she has changed a lot after Elma has worked whith her and Skrúður. Elsa also has cerebral palsy (CP), which means she does not have full control of movements, "says Elma Cates.
Elma Lind notes that the Skrúður is an Icelandic obedience champion, was immediately attracted to Elsa Lind so Elma trained Skrúður to work with Elsa fyrst to talk and later to read. At the age of five and six Elsa Lind took a picture of the dogs to school and for the teatcer to get her attention she showed Elsa the picture of the dogs. At fyrst when she stared to open up she only whispered words about the dogs soon Elsa Lind stared to talk about other things
The second and third grade Elsa had difficult focusing on her text books and especially reading. Then
Skrúður did a good job laying with her on the bed at night or on the couch during the day, and listened to her read, and gradually she got interested in reading. Elsa is now in the 4th grade and Elsa is reading very well.
Elsa Lind has achieved enormous success in a short time. In the beginning of the 3rd grade Elsa Lind only wisper to the teacer but now it is starting to speak out loud. The first time she spoke out loud in front of the class was in 3rd grade when she took pictures of Skrúðurs puppies to school, she then turned her back to the students and introduced the dogs to them with the help of her teacher and invited the kids back home to meet them .
This year Elsa showed much improvement, she had presentation in school and spoke loud and clear
and told the kids about all for the dogs, then she invited the kids and teachers to come to visit us, after the kids had played with the dogs Elsa asked spoke loud and clear if they wanted to see were hthe dog sleep, the they whent outside and she show them obedience and some triks
This work with the dog Elsa Lind has become a very strong socialy, kids in the neighborhood to come and ask Elsa and Skrúður to come outside to play.
Get him to obey
Elma has contributed to the success of Skrúður and Elsa Lind. "To get her to speak loudly and clearly Elma began to teach Elsa obedience training and working with the dog in obedience. Elsa had to use words to get him to obey and order to solve various tasks such as. to walk at heel, sit, lie, stay, lying on a walk and jump the barrier. Later, when she was beginning to control him from a distance she had to speak in a higher voice it was the beginning that she speak in a normal voive today.
Elsa Lind has a variety of results with dog. She went for example with the international dog show in Reykjavik in February and reached fourth place in the junior class. Elsa and Skrúður competed in Reykjavík Winn tournament in April and reached theird place.
"This work with Elsa is nonstop, she will continue two show and work with dogs. Elma will continu to train her dogs in intense exercises and Elsa Lind will follow. Elma og Elsa Lind are now starting to work with Skrúðurs daugter ístjarnar Katla.
The dogs are always used as the starting point for everything Elsa undertakes in life.
Elsa Linds school takes part in the work with Elsa Linda and Skrúður. If Elsa a difficult day she draws a picture of the dogs and then forget her difficulties and can go to work again.
Skrúður was rewarded „Achhiement award“ by HRFÍ 2014 for his work with Elsa Lind
Text with photo:
Elsa Lind Þorvaldsdóttir, 9 years old, with dog Skrúður. She whispered in school last year, but is now starting to speak in normal voice because her work with dogs.