My new service dog in training.

On July the 8th 2017, I got my first dog. I adopted a border collie/lab mix named “Nikki”. That day was so exciting!

 

We are in the car. I am rocking back and forth because I am so excited, I am going to meet Nikki! This is soooo exciting! After waiting for what seemed like eternity to get to our destination, we finally pulled into the parking lot. I see a small black dog with a woman outside the building. We walk up, and it turns out to be Nikki! Nikki wags her tail excitedly. We decide to go inside, the woman, whose name is Liz, demonstrates some of the service dog tasks she has learned such as deep pressure therapy, block, and watch my back. I am hoping with all my heart that that I can take this sweet girl home. My mom asks about taking Nikki home. My heart flutters with excitement as the papers are filled out, and then we were out of the door and on the way home with Nikki. Later on that evening after a trip to PetSmart and Orange leaf, in which Nikki got a small amount of vanilla froyo, we headed home. That night she jumped onto my bed, she looked at me like “I am going to sleep on your bed with you, right??” So I let her sleep on my bed. At one point she came up beside me and licked my face, such a sweet dog. I think she is going to be a great service dog with more training.

 That was an exciting day. Nikki is learning how to sit, lay, and I am going to be teaching her come, stay, anxiety alert, and guiding through a crowd. Her vest, which we ordered today, is supposed to come on Wednesday. I am excited to start the process of training Nikki to be a service dog.

 

Lonely Girl

I wander around,

Looking at the groups of people,

Talking, laughing,

Smiles, frowns, hand movements.

I stand by, watching,

The conversation goes on,

I cannot find a way to enter,

I slowly walk away.

 

Another group,

Adults talking,

Can I fit in here?

The conversation keeps running,

Each person chipping in their part,

But I cannot find a way to be a part of their group,

And so I still search.

 

I find a group of girls,

Laughing, giggling, and chatting.

I would like to say something, but I cannot,

the words are stuck in my mouth,

Like glue is attached to my words,

So I still wander.

 

 

 

 

Will I ever find a place?

have a friend that I can talk too about my passions?

Horses,

Parelli,

Dogs,

Service dogs,

Vaulting,

Art,

And Autism.

 

Sometimes the loneliness creeps in,

And I cry silently on the inside,

And sometimes the tears start dripping on the outside,

Slowly making wet lines down my face,

I wander “Will I always feel this way?”

Because I just want someone to be with,

To fill the gap of loneliness that I feel.

 

Someday I hope,

I will have friends,

A group that I can fit into,

So that I don’t feel lonely anymore.

 

 

 

A poem about lonliness and anxiety written by an Autistic person.

 

❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️

🙍🙍🙍🙁🙁😢😢

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to get a service dog, here’s why

Lately I have been wanting my own service dog. I would like to get a puppy, and train it to be a service dog. So, why do I want a service dog? Well, I love dogs. I have always loved dogs since I was very small. I used to collect stuffed dogs, from poodles to Chihuahua’s.  I also work with a dog in a small dog club. I like doing rally courses and showmanship. It is fun, and challenges me to use problem solving when my dog doesn’t do something right or if I make a mistake.

I also like dogs because they are very calming to me. Petting a dog can make me feel a lot calmer. In my last vaulting performance, I had the opportunity to snuggle with an adorable Sussex spaniel puppy. His fur was super soft and I loved stroking his fur and holding him in my lap. I felt calmer as I stroked the puppy’s fur and my sensory processing seemed to be less noticeable, as I often hear every sound and sometimes get overwhelmed by sound.

I also have anxiety/panic attacks. Although I do not know if I am truly having panic attacks, but I do have symptoms including tight chest, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, irregular heartbeat, shakiness, stomachache, burning in stomach and chest, tinging in hands, arms, legs, and feet, and sometimes difficulty breathing easily. All of these symptoms do not happen with each attack either, sometimes they are combined, and sometimes they are not.

These can make me feel very uncomfortable. One I had made me feel like I was dying, because my chest was so tight, and my stomach was hurting, and my heart rate was up. I felt like my whole body was going crazy on the inside. I can act pretty normal on the outside, even though on the inside my body is going nuts with anxiety.

Service dogs can help with anxiety by doing anxiety alerts, DPT (deep pressure therapy), guiding to an exit, getting help, etc. Service dogs can also help with autistic people with sensory processing difficulties and meltdowns. One autistic individual I read about found it easier to communicate to people with her service dog by her side.

I think a service dog would help me a lot. Although I am on Zoloft, It does not completely prevent anxiety/panic attacks. It has helped some, but it does not “cure” my anxiety. My mentor likes to think of medication as the foundation for working on your anxiety, if you have a firm foundation, then you can find it easier to work on your anxiety. I wasn’t put on medication for a long time, and even before going onto medication my therapist and I discussed whether or not it would be beneficial to me.

I hope someday that I can get a dog of my own to train as my own service dog. I know it would take a lot of time and effort, but I am willing to do that. I encourage anyone interested in a service dog to look into getting a service dog, or training one of their own. Service dogs are great dogs, they can help so many people with many different issues feel happier, safer, and more confident.

Communication can be a complicated thing, navigating the social/communication world as an Autistic person.

Communication can be hard. All of these rules, words, people, subjects, it just sometimes all jumbles up inside my head. Sometimes I long to speak with people, to fit in, to understand all of the things that they talk about, but the inner me gets overwhelmed by the sound of a radio playing and people laughing loudly.

I’m learning rules that I have never heard of before. I never knew that it was a “rule” to say “Hello, how are you?” and “Goodbye” to someone you know. I thought it was optional, that I could just choose to look at the person and go on with my day. It simply did not register in my Autistic brain that I was supposed to do that.

Autistic people, like me, can struggle with communication and fitting in socially. Our brains are different. My social file in my brain is limited, I did not come programmed with the social skills of a neurotypical. Others sometimes get frustrated at me with this, because I don’t know a communication rule, or I’m struggling with anxiety and so, therefore, I do not do what they expect me to do.

I do not know if I will ever be able to socialize like a neurotypical. But, I would like to be able to talk to people. It just may take more time for me to learn how to communicate well. I have now learned how to check out at the front library desk in my library. This is a big thing for me because I had a lot of social anxiety about going up to the desk and talking to a person.

Each time I do check out at the front desk, it becomes easier for me. I also have talked on the phone a couple of times. It’s all about baby steps for me, one little step at a time. Social skills may not come easy, and I may not be able to socialize like a Neurotypical, but I do want to improve my social skills as an Autistic person. It just may take more time.