For parents of children with autism, it’s a difficult adjustment. There are certain behaviors that parents need to learn to accept about their kids. For Amanda Granados, it was accepting that she wouldn’t get to be physically close to her son, Joey. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 7-years-old. As a child, Joey hated to be touched and refused physical affections like hugs – even from his own mom.
However, when Joey was a teenager he met his best friend: Roxy. Roxy is a gray Pit-Bull, a rescue from the shelter who has floppy ears, big brown eyes, and an even bigger heart. It was with the help of the compassionate canine that the teenager was able to form connections. In fact, after just a short while with Roxy, Joey was able to give his mom a kiss on her cheek.
Naturally, it was a milestone for the mom – a moment that she would not be forgetting.
When speaking with Today, Joey shared some of the struggles that he experienced growing up. In his own words, he expressed, “I didn’t have too many friends growing up, but then we got Roxy and I’ve been able to make friends ever since. At home, I’ve been able to hold my mom’s hand, kiss her, hug her, and do a lot of things that I hadn’t been able to do growing up. She’s opened up my heart.”
As moving as Joey’s story is, it’s quite common as there are many people with autism who’s service dogs end up doing wonders for them in terms of connection. Because of this growing popularity, Autism Service Dogs of America has a slogan which reads, “a child who connects to a dog, connects to the world.” Because of the rising numbers of diagnosed cases of autism, the demand for autism service dogs has been increasing since these dogs are very much a calming presence to help facilitate communication for those with autism.
Back in a 2013 study, it was found that children who have autism are more likely to show more expressiveness, as well as positive social behaviors when connecting with animals. However, every case of autism is different as it affects people differently. So, in some cases, dogs don’t help everyone who is on the spectrum. However, for the Granados family their pup Roxy has been a life-changing addition to the home. After meeting her at the Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center, they immediately brought her home. According to Amanda, she’s been Joey’s best friend ever since.
Watch their story below:
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.