Boy with autism reads to lonely shelter dogs

Posted at 11:15 AM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 14:15:24-04

A 6-year-old California boy is helping shy rescue dogs come out of their shells by reading them storybooks.

Jacob Tumalan, 6, who has autism, began reading to pups after his aunt, Lisa Dekowski-Ferranti, brought him to Carson Animal Shelter in Gardena, California, where she and her daughter Lindsay volunteer.

Mom Katie Tumalan told ABC News that Jacob's weekly visits to the shelter have improved his reading skills and even helped him come out of his own shell a bit.

"My son has always had a big problem with loud noises and a lot of activity around him," Tumalan of La Habra, California, said. "When he's there, he looks like he's pretty focused and he could block a lot of that out. At times he'll cover his ears, but he stays in tune with the dogs while reading his books, so that's pretty awesome to me."

Tumalan said her niece Lindsay started a group called "Rescue Readers," where children volunteer to read to the animals at the shelter. Jacob joined, and has been reading every Thursday after school for the last six months.

Jacob's Aunt Lisa told ABC News that her daughter Lindsey hopes to recruit additional "Rescue Readers" this summer.

"I am very proud of him," Jacob's mother said.