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Owning This One Pet Can Stop Asperger’s Meltdown Episodes
One woman, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has found some relief from her episodes from her trained Rottweiler named Samson.
Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. Many people who suffer from this problem often self-harm during “meltdown episodes.”
The woman in the following video is Danielle Jacobs, a 24 year old with Asperger’s Syndrome. She shows herself during a meltdown session hitting herself repeatedly in the chest and head. As Jacobs begins to harm herself, her dog Samson moves in and blocks her by using his paws or his body. Although it appears in the video that the dog is comforting Jacobs, she insists that this isn’t the case. How does she know this? Because Jacobs trained Samson herself.
This YouTube video has been viewed more than 2.4 million times, which is almost as incredible as the duo itself. Jacobs adopted Samson from an animal rescue in Phoenix, Arizona, when he was about a year old. She has been training the dog to assist her ever since. Jacobs has experience training shelter dogs in obedience, but she required her mother’s help for this effort. She asked her mother to film her during a session so that she would know what she was doing in order to train the dog to assist her.
Jacobs states that she has these “meltdown” episodes each month. How many? That can vary depending on how stressed out she feels. This amazing woman says that Asperger’s is something like a computer. When there is too much input too quickly and not nearly enough output, you lose control and then everything crashes.
When the 120-pound Samson lies across Jacobs’ lap, he is providing her with tactile stimulation. His weight and pressure help her check back in with herself, becoming aware of her state of mind, calming her so that she can return to a more normal state. Without Samson, Jacobs says that she isn’t really conscious of the meltdown that she is having. The weight and presence of the dog calms her and snaps her out of the tantrum.
Service dogs for autism are not nearly as well known as Seeing Eye dogs for the blind or those trained to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, but they can be very helpful to both children and adults. The founder of the Virginia-based Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, Dan Warren, has said that autism dogs help their owners get better sleep as well have improved and increased social interactions. These service dogs can also help owners who tend to become overwhelmed, helping them to deal with stimuli overload from smells, sounds and crowds.
Jacobs posted the video so that others might better understand the behavior of others. When you see an adult on the floor kicking and screaming like a toddler, it’s not that they are mentally ill, but that they have a medical condition that they cannot control. For those with Asperger’s, the “wiring” in the brain is twisted. They cannot simply communicate their frustration or anger the ways others do.
READ ALSO: What You Are NOT Being Told About Autism
Jacobs is currently employed by Target, but she hopes that one day she will find a job with a dog-training company. She is saving money to adopt another puppy that she intends to teach the same way she did Samson so that it can be a service dog for someone else. Although she continues to suffer from meltdowns like the ones in her video and she is not happy about that, she does see a bright side to her condition. Asperger’s has given her a talent that she is grateful for. Jacobs believes that those who have autism have very high IQs, so they tend to figure things out quickly. She sees this as a blessing in disguise.