Saturday, March 26, 2011

Life With Lucy: The Little Things that Make it Worth It

Having a service dog in training is more than just the long hours of exercises and daily exposure to public environments.

"Mommy! She can't bring a dog in here!" is what I often hear children say as I walk into Target or the grocery store.
"That's a special dog," mothers say.
"Well, my dog is special! I want to bring him in here too!"

Training my own service dog is exhausting, and at times I've really just wanted to give up. When I see a child's first exposure to Lucy, it's one of those the little moments make me smile and say I'm thankful for Lucy despite the daunting responsibility. I want my partnership with Lucy to be a chance to teach children about the uniqueness of service animals as well as help them learn to appreciate and understand people with disabilities as people just like themselves.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Boy With Autism and His Service Dog:1 School District:0

Watch this YouTube video about a ten-year old Oregon boy and his family who have finally won the right to bring his autism service dog to school:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is Autism Really a Disorder?

Until recently, scientists have been stuck on the idea that a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder means that a child's life will be filled with a series of deficits: difficulty with social cues such as eye contact and reading body language, problems integrating with peers and establishing relationships, and difficulty processing spoken language.

As a result, parents and researchers alike have thrown themselves headfirst into every effort or latest trend that comes along with even a hint of possibility of curing autism. But does autism really need a cure? A recent article published by Wired Magazine argues that autism is not necessarily a disorder at all, but simply a difference in the wiring of the brain, leading individuals with autism to function differently than a typically developing person would in everyday life.

The article also supports the idea that, contrary to popular belief, those with even the most severe forms of autism may not be as "trapped in their own worlds" as we had originally thought thanks to the internet and mass media capabilities like blogging and text-to speech software.

Take twenty-seven year old Amanda Baggs, one of the subjects of Wired's interview: nonverbal autistic but managing a blog and a YouTube channel where her latest upload has received over 100,000 hits. She's obviously onto something, and now she and others like her may soon turn the long-held opinion that those who don't speak don't understand completely on its head.

Read the full article here:

Watch Amanda Bagg's latest YouTube video: "In My Language":