Forest Lake Area High School (FLAHS) has a four-legged friend that visits with various Special Education classrooms every Monday and Thursday. Her name is Muppet, and she passed the testing and observation phase with the nationally accredited Therapy Dog association, Therapy Dog Alliance (ATD).
Muppet started her therapy dog sessions at Ecumen Parmly LifePointes (Hospice Care) and began coming to FLAHS the Thursday before Thanksgiving. Special Education Teacher Dawn Soltis, who has worked with Autism Spectrum Disorders at the high school for the past five years and is known as the lady that holds the leash, was delighted to have Muppet come to the school and work with different classes.
"I have a student who is in a wheelchair that told us he didn't trust anyone to use the hoyer lift to get him out of his wheelchair because he felt so helpless when he was out of his chair," Special Education teacher Nicole Mancuso said. "When he met Muppet, he was so upset that others could get on the floor and play with her and he could barely reach her. Staff suggested that this student use the lift to get on the beanbag and Muppet could come cuddle with him. He cautiously agreed."
"The day it was planned, he was so scared and nervous. Once he was on the beanbag he uses and Muppet was with him, he had the biggest smile I have ever seen on him. He made comments about how it was the best day of school he had ever had and he would gladly use the lift every time Muppet came to visit."
Through Muppet serving the Special Education Department and various classrooms, other students have begun to notice Muppet's presence and it has positively impacted their days as well.