Autistic adults have difficulty finding service dogs, most agencies focus on children and do not offer service dogs to adults. MSAR provides service dogs for Autism with no age restrictions ....... Here is a story of a recent match - Mac and K9 Chase..... MSAR changing lives one dog at time.
My name is Mac and I am a passionate young person interested in music, lego photography and human rights advocacy. I did not receive my official autism diagnosis until I was 13, going into grade 8 (2014). While I have always been a unique kid who walks to the beat of my own drum, the disparity between me and my peers became more and more apparent as I got older and my environment became more demanding. When I was younger, with the help of a variety of therapies, the focus was on improving my physical delays and limitations such as late walking, poor balance and significant struggles with gross motor activities (sports), as well as severe anxiety and significant sensitivity to outside stimuli such as noise, texture, etc. As I got older, the gap between my communication and social interactions versus my peers increased, thus encouraging my parents to pursue autism spectrum disorder testing and diagnosis. When I received my diagnosis, I actually felt a lot of relief, as it explained a lot of what I had been feeling, why I felt so disconnected with the world and why everything just seemed harder.
Although my family was fortunate enough to be able to provide me with the opportunity to work with various therapists and social groups, I found that they did not meet my needs and were repeatedly not a good fit. We had already known about autism service dogs, however at one point, if there was anything with more legs than me within 100m, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. After years of exposure therapy, particularly around dogs, we then began to see the unparalleled impact a dog had on me. Once this unparalleled impact was clear and we looked into getting a service dog, we quickly realized that in my province, the providers of those dogs focused on children under 10 with the tendency to bolt/etc. When we discovered MSAR, it seemed almost too good to be true. The difference in an autism dog for me, versus a young child, is that I am the primary handler. We wanted to wait to inquire until I had shown that I had the capacity to manage a dog entirely on my own in every way, including on-going training, day to day care, budgeting, etc. After my younger sister died by suicide in December 2019, I had very low motivation and was beginning to slip more and more into depressive tendencies. We decided it was time for a change.
With Chase in my life, I am given a built in routine, purpose and accountability. This is of course, in addition to the immense support Chase provides me with for the day to day struggles I face due to my autism, including social support, increased independence, sensory coping, grounding in the case of overstimulation, general self regulation, sleep improvement and so so much more! When I was younger, I was easily overstimulated and almost always dysregulated. Within my first few days with Chase, that had already improved for the first time in my life, not to mention experiencing my first good night sleep without the aid of a weighted blanket and medication. I can barely even imagine where my life is going to go with Chase by my side!
My experience with MSAR has been so amazing. A big difference compared to a lot of organizations is that when you meet your dog, you aren’t just told to take it and go. It is a detailed process where they ensure that the dog is the right dog for you. If you are from out of town, you have the option to stay at the MSAR facility for a number of days/weeks working with your dog and training as a team. They make sure to go at a manageable pace, adapted to your needs, ability and comfort levels. They ensure that before you leave, you feel fully comfortable and prepared. Additionally, when you sign up for a dog, not only are you getting the dog, but you are joining a community that has your back and is there to support you every step of the way.