Jim and Nuala Gardner had a lot of problems with their son Dale's self-destructive behavior. As they struggled with what they should do, they acquired Henry for Dale, and the dog changed everything. They were able to create a voice for Henry the Golden Retriever to facilitate their communication with Dale and other positive effects poured in over time.
Nuala Gardner wrote the book, A Friend Like Henry (2008) to document the dramatic change in her son Dale (now in his early 20's) as he developed a relationship with their Golden Retriever named Henry. The book is evidence of the positive effect that a dog can have on some children with autism. In Dale's case his dog Henry helped improve his behavior, communication, and self-concept. The following is the YouTube video made to give a brief glimpse at the story of Henry and Dale.
After Thomas was a movie based on the Golden Retriever Henry and Dale's relationship. Henry is called Thomas in the movie because of Dale's love for the Thomas the Engine character.
The dog in this story called Henry died in 2006, but his legacy of having changed Dale's life lives on. Dale said, "He was my dog and I loved him. He died in April this year (2006) and even though I love our new dog (also called Henry) it was terrible for me. The first Henry was special (Source)."
Dale Gardner's parents are very proud of what he is accomplishing as a well adjusted young adult. After Henry arrived into their life, Jim and Nuala Gardner had a daughter Amy who also developed autism. More information on their family can be found in an article written by Daphne Lockyer.
Special thanks to Henry Gardner for being a Golden Light. The help he gave a boy with autism was a life-changer. Jim and Nuala Gardner were featured on the Autism Light blog. You may read their feature at their page at the Autism Light blog.
Golden Light Honors the Lives of Golden Retrievers.