Pawsitive Abilities is a Program Designed and Initiated by our Neuropsychologist Dr. Cristy L. Russo.

Focused on the needs of children, adolescents and young adults with Autism and developmental disabilities and their families. Making life a little kinder one dog at a time.

Commitment to Children and Families

Pawsitive Abilities’ programming is designed to provide training, education, and support to improve the outcomes of individuals with Autism and Developmental Disabilities through the utilization of service and therapy dogs and community education.

Pawsitive Abilities is comprised of a volunteer committee with various backgrounds including professional dog trainers, mental health providers, retired educators, parents and caregivers with affected family members who are dedicated to meeting needs of children, adolescents, and young adults with Autism and developmental disabilities and their families. Our programming is designed to provide training, education, and support to improve the outcomes of the children through the utilization of service and therapy dogs.

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Individual Service Dog Placement

Service Dog Awareness

Facilitator Training Support

Facilitator & Child Interaction

Service Dog Training

Each applicant and family is interviewed and upon acceptance into the program will engage in the general training process and companion placement will occur based on the individual needs of the child and family. 

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Educational Assistance Dogs

Teacher/Facilitator Support

Facilitator Training

School Support &Education

Parent Education

Each classroom facilitator is interviewed and upon acceptance into the program must provide a letter from their school and school district providing permission to utilize the educational assistance dog in the classroom.

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Community Outreach

School Visits

Service Dog Awareness

Community Education

Therapy Dog Outreach

Raising awareness within the community and providing support and training to educators, providers, and community organizations. Creating a community of collaboration to help promote the knowledge of benefits of service animals and mental health awareness.

Cristy Russo, PhD., MSCP, created Pawsitive Abilities,  from her passion about the collaboration between families, educators, & providers in facilitating a child-centered approach to promoting social, emotional and educational well-being. Since implementation of the pilot program, Osceola County has since been able to move forward with their full program EAD Osceola which has grown from 3 dogs in 3 schools to multiple dogs across the county. Dr. Russo is a licensed psychologist in the state of Florida and available for consultation or program development. For additional information regarding the Pawsitive Abilities programming or to schedule a presentation, training, or consultation, contact Dr. Russo at 321-802-1150 or by email

Pawsitive Abilities began as a pilot study to develop an Educational Assistance Dog Pilot Program beginning in the 2018-2019 Academic Year. This program has evolved into EAD Osceola which now places Educational Assistance Dogs in multiple schools within Osceola County Public Schools. Since that time, Pawsitive Abilities has grown into Pawsitive Abilities Wellness Society (PAWS). A non-profit dedicated to helping our community. Please visit our website and facebook page to see the current programs and to see how you can help!

Pawsitive Abilities

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