Samuel is a sweet, bright, energetic 5 year old. When he was about 3 years old, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety. While we weren’t completely surprised, it was hard to hear the diagnosis. We had fears of what his future would be like. Would he be able to make friends, go to college, and be independent as an adult?
We as a family are trying to give Samuel the best chance at a productive and happy life. Samuel is currently working with intervention specialists, occupational therapy, speech therapy, as well as ABA therapy. He has made great progress and continues to improve. We are so proud of him and amazed by his accomplishments.
Even with his progress, Samuel still faces daily challenges. He has a hard time focusing. He enjoys watching his peers, but it is hard for him to interact and play. Samuel has frequent anxiety, especially in new situations. Dealing with change is typically a challenge for Samuel and can lead to meltdowns. Samuel can easily become over stimulated. He doesn’t like watching most cartoons like other kids do. When certain commercials come on TV, he will quickly get up and run out of the room.
Samuel is always on the move, he really doesn’t know how to sit still & relax. He is typically in motion from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed at night. Falling asleep and staying asleep can be hard for him. Samuel is not always aware of his environment. This sometimes leads to accidents, which in turn can lead to meltdowns.
Samuel has always loved animals. We had a family dog that passed away about 3 years ago. He was Samuel’s best friend and he still misses him. Samuel does try to play with our senior cat like he is a dog, but the cat does not feel the same way. A service dog will be able to give him the companionship he is looking for. We are also hopeful that a service dog will help him to gain some confidence, independence and help lower his anxiety in new situations.
Samuel has so much to offer this world. He surprises everyone around him. He loves to cuddle, often picks up on people’s emotions, and is very smart. The best we can do for Samuel is to love him, accept him, support & provide him with all the resources we can to help him reach his full potential. We don’t want to change Samuel, but we do want to help him cope with his symptoms in a productive way. We want to continue to help him develop and grow as a person. Ultimately, we just want him to live a happy and fulfilled life, however he defines that. We think a service dog could play a vital role in this endeavor. As a family, we will continue to love and support Samuel, wherever his path takes us. We are just happy to be on this journey with him.