Jeff Garcia, a juvenile liaison officer with the Elk River Police Department who spends part of his work week at Salk, has seen Olaf in action with the kids. What has impressed him is how many kids have taken to him. “I think Olaf has had a great impact on the entire school community,” he said.
Olaf’s main purpose is to be a calming agent in Ostmoe’s classroom. When students get wound up or agitated, Olaf can help return children to a calm state. He’s able to provide an outlet for children who find it difficult or awkward to talk with their peers. Students with autism spectrum disorders and other students who are shy often avoid interactions with peers altogether, but with Olaf, Ostmoe said, they find a bond with the dog, making it easier to strike up a conversation with their peers. Sometimes that’s at the end of the day while Ostmoe takes Olaf on walks or when students are rewarded and get to walk Olaf back to her class.'
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