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When 8-year-old Conor Corrigan experiences change, he’ll sometimes scream and fling himself on the floor. Autism makes it difficult for Conor to adjust his routines. But now, thanks to his new sidekick — a service poodle named Peyton — it’s easier for Conor to calm down.

“Even if he does [have an episode] Peyton will lie on top of him, give him that deep pressure and that episode will last seconds rather than 15 minutes,” Conor’s mom, Shelly, tells KXAN in the video below. The friendly poodle also helps Conor interact with his classmates — a feat that was challenging before.

On her blog, Shelly Corrigan explained:

One of the great things about Peyton being at school is that it gets kids and adults talking about autism. Not many knew what was up with Conor and why he wouldn’t talk to anyone. It broke my heart seeing kids trying to engage with Conor and when he didn’t respond they gave up and looked like they thought Conor was being rude and not talking to them. Now everyone knows that Peyton is there to help Conor in many ways including communication. Kids are curious about autism and thankfully ask a lot of questions. Conor is gaining a lot more confidence, and Peyton is helping bridge the gap between a “kid with special needs” and a “kid who gets to bring his dog to school and needs extra help talking.”

The Corrigans are still fundraising to fully pay for Peyton. But Conor’s mom told KXAN that she later hopes to start a nonprofit so other families with autism can afford service dogs.

Watch Conor and Peyton attending Barton Creek Elementary in West Lake Hills, Tex., in the KXAN video below:

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