(Picture is my parents’ dog).
First of all I want to thank you for reading this. It’s a really big step for me to put it all online, but if I want to make my life better I need to do things. Even things that are hard.
I am Suzan, 25 years old and live in Doetinchem. I live on my own with residential guidance. It means that I can call whenever I need anyone, and that there is someone who visits me twice a week. Up until I got my own apartment, I lived in some kind of group home. I needed this, because I have a form of autism, which I suffer from every day. In many cases it actually determines my life and plans. I hope, with your help, to change this for the better.
Because I have autism, I developed a depression and a panic disorder, which are maintained by and were formed by autism. The panic attacks mostly come when I am overstimulated by senses. I often have a hard time dealing with tension and stimuli from around me. I get panic attacks during activities that are normal for others. Like doing groceries, going shopping, going by public transport or maintaining my social life. Because of the panic attacks and barely getting out of it, I started to avoid situations (like the ones above). Aside from panic attacks, overstimulation also tend to meltdowns (getting angry or crying, while I don’t know what’s going on anymore), I lose overview, and I am afraid of social situations all together.
I also have an auto-immune disease (Hashimoto’s disease, Thyroid). Because of this I am in a lot of pain and extremely tired all the time. All the problems above, make sure there are some daily activities that I can’t do on my own, and my social networks slims down.
A service dog can help me and support me with these problems. The dog will undergo a really intensive training so he/she can warn and help me when I need it. The dog can filter stimuli, help to prevent panic attacks or help me get through it. I can also learn the dog to help me with household chores.
The service dog will function as some kind of barrier. Not to scare people away, but to make the situation clear for me. When people come too close, or suddenly touch me, it triggers panic attacks and/or meltdowns. Like when someone accidentally bumps into me in the supermarket, or sits next to me on the bus. Because of these reactions, my social network slims down even more. When I get my service dog, it will also mean that my mental health will increase. At this moment, I avoid a lot of situations which leads to less social contacts and which makes it harder to get to know new people or to keep in touch with people. I know for sure that a service dog can help me with this.
Even though I tried multiple times, I still can’t participate independently in society. I keep needing therapy because of returning problems. Especially avoiding situations, panic attacks and social interactions.
Various studies found out that a service dog reduces stress, fear and aggression and increases confidence, concentration and social activities for people with autism.
Instead of me trying to survive, I can actually start living with the help of the assistance dog, my physical and mental health will increase.
The dog will increase the chance of succeeding independent living, after a while I will be less dependent on other people to take care of myself. I will feel safe, trusted and feel good because my buddy and I can do it ourselves.
Long story short: a service dog will help me live instead of survive, and it will also give me so much more freedom. It’s a good solution to keep living independent and reduce therapy and medication.