LIFE for Lachlan Masters used to be defined by uncontrolled fits of rage.
Diagnosed with severe autism at 18 months of age, Lachlan would repeatedly bash his head, bite and scream.
His family became prisoners in their western suburbs own home; unable to go to the supermarket because Lachlan would rip products from shelves.
Playgrounds were off limits out of fear Lachlan would run across the road and be hit by a car.
Then two years ago Lachlan’s life changed — because he met Zeke.
The labrador and autism assistant dog who has become Lachlan’s protector, best-friend and provided a calming influence for the six-year-old.
“Lachlan slept through, from the first night Zeke came into the house,” his mother, Judy, said ahead of World Autism Awarness Day on April 2.
Zeke, 4, is among a growing team of dogs, trained by Guide Dogs SA/NT, to provide comfort and safety to children with autism.
A belt, worn by Lachlan, is attached to Zeke’s service jacket — and the dog is trained to drop to the ground like an anchor to protect children with autism, when they react to sensory overload.
“(Lachlan) knows that he’s safe with Zeke,” Ms Masters, 40, said. “Life became very happy for him and Zeke offers Lachlan freedom.
“He was non-verbal before Zeke came along and now he’s feeling more comfortable with life … he’s starting to talk.
“He’s got several words, he can’t put a sentence together but gets his message across such as ‘Mummy, milk’.
“Before (Zeke) there was nothing, not a thing coming out but now he’s relaxed and things have started happening for him.
“It has changed our world — I can’t thank Guide Dogs enough.”
Zeke, who is funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme, will remain with the family for his life.
Guide Dogs SA autism assistant dog instructor Natalie Carey said children between the age of three and eight years old, that are non-verbal, diagnosed with severe autism and have a tendency to run off could meet the criteria of the program.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer puppy raisers or to apply for an autism dog for their child can phone 82038333.
Originally published as The dog who changed a boy’s world