Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Little About Lucy, a Little About Autism, A LONG Post!

I realize I probably should have included some background information on Lucy in my first post but I didn't, so here goes. Lucy is a ten month old yellow Lab being trained to assist with the challenges  pertaining to my diagnoses of Asperger's Syndrome (a form of high functioning autism) and nonverbal learning disability.
She has about a year and a half to go until she is fully certified.  She will eventually assist with everyday social interactions, reduction of anxiety in loud, crowded areas, and lead me home when I am lost in an unfamiliar place. 

When she is not working her favorite games are ball and Frisbee. She loves going swimming at the lake in the summer and licking  Kongs with peanut butter in them!

It is common for individuals with autism spectrum disorders to exhibit social awkwardness, have difficulty making and maintaining age appropriate relationships, problems with conversational skills, and reading social cues etc. 

Also, people on the spectrum are often predisposed to anxiety and depression due to their difficulties with social interaction   Lucy will act as an icebreaker in social situations and new environments allowing me to feel less anxiety. She is already doing an amazing job! 

The learning disability is a bit harder to explain. In a nutshell, I have a very high verbal ability but a very low abstract reasoning ability so anything that is not verbal, for example: language, reading, writing, etc. is extremely hard like maths, telling time, counting money, or sense of direction, so Lucy will lead me home if I ever get lost, of course, from specific points. I understand not to run away from caregivers and would never be in danger of being found say, 15 miles from home. 

However, some individuals with more severe cases of autism do run away occasionally due to excitement, fear, or overstimulation from their environment. In their case, a  service dog may be taught to find them usually by smell, and return them to caregivers or, in some cases the individual may be tethered to the dog to prevent him or her from running, although this practice is controversial. 

Some service dog trainers believe that a dog should not act as a babysitter no mater how trained or well behaved he is, while others believe that the dog is not being asked to babysit, he is simply trained to accompany the individual  in public in a manner that allows for both parental peace of mind, and  emotional stability and contentment of the individual with autism.  I tend to agree.  Opinions anyone?...

No comments:

Post a Comment