By Julia Gualtieri
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Since the beginning of the school year, the Van Dongen high school in Lagny-sur-Marne has welcomed a rather special student. Answering to the name of Loustic, this Polish plains shepherd is not a dog like the others. He helps one of the final year students, Fanny, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). And he is the first assistance dog authorized in a high school in Seine-et-Marne.
It was a long fight for Loustic to accompany Fanny during her lessons. “It was two years of battle”, explain his parents, Olivier and Sophie.
A administrative battle : Fanny and her family were the first to make such a request in Seine-et-Marne. “Since the creation of the MDPH77 (Departmental House for the Disabled) in 2005, this is the first time that we have been asked to do this,” confirms Armelle Rousselot, director of the MDPH.
Another student thanks to Loustic, her service dog
Yet it has been 6 years since this faithful companion simplified and secured Fanny’s life. “When I was told OK, after two years of waiting, I couldn’t believe it myself, I was already looking for another school! “, rejoices the young girl in final NSI (Numerical and computer sciences), option maths.
Today, Loustic is authorized to accompany in high school, during class, and Fanny is another student. “We feel more at ease and more reassured, we ourselves are reassured! “, testify Emy and Maxine, her two friends and classmates. “She is more present, more fulfilled, she is a young girl who has regained her smile”, also notes the headmaster, Marie-Christine Berne.
It’s very simple, Fanny no longer has any absences and everything is going very well. Reluctance has fallen. Everyone realized the importance of Loustic.
A companion capable of preventing seizures
In class, in addition to being a reassuring presence, Loustic is a alert launcher :
He senses when I’m going to have a fit and he growls to warn me. If I can’t calm down, he’ll do what’s called pressotherapy, putting all his weight on my legs to reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
A help that his AVS, Béatrice, cannot give him. “She’s not there all the time, at recess for example, which can be a stressful time,” says Fanny.
As an assistance dog, Loustic must even know to take decisions instead: “My symptoms mean that I may have sensory disturbances, vision for example. He must be able to prevent me from crossing if I haven’t seen a danger, ”continues the young girl.
A 4-legged guardian angel
For her, Loustic is like her four-legged guardian angel. She got it shortly after the initial diagnoses.
Fanny was 14 when the doctors put a name to her troubles. She has symptoms of a mild ASD and a ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). At the same time, she declares two syndromes which cause her physical pain and force her to live in a wheelchair.
Since then, Loustic has become a essential life companion. On a daily basis, he helps her get dressed, can pick up objects, bring her the phone if she falls… In all, he knows how to respond to 200 commands.
Bringing Loustic to high school: an administrative challenge
After college, she discovers that he could accompany her to high school and the family begins the process. Which turn out to be long. “Many families do not know their rights. Nobody tells us. And then, two years for a history of form! There is reason to be discouraged, ”points out Sophie.
For the principal of the Van Dongen high school, the family had to put up with the plaster: “There was no opposition but we could not take the responsibility of welcoming a dog, as adorable as he was, we had to establish a framework “.
According to Armelle Rousselot, the difficulty was coordinating a process between the MDPH and National Education:
Today, the process is simplified, thanks to the action of this family. You must be a beneficiary of the mobility inclusion card, that the need is recognized by the MDPH and have an approved dog.
The family leads the way
A news that rewards the hard times experienced by the family: “Do not hesitate. The problem comes from ignorance around the role of assistance dogs for autistic disorders. The more there are, the more we will talk about them”, encourage Sophie and Olivier.
A few months after his arrival, Loustic is in any case already popular. “It has become a bit of a mascot high school”, sums up Marie-Christine Berne.
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