My incredible Autism Assistance Dog, Ryder has transformed my life, bringing hope to a hopeless situation and bringing joy to a broken heart.
In the years before Ryder came into my life, my sadness and severe pain almost killed me. I had to pull out of the A-Levels that I had worked so hard for. I stopped eating entirely because of my pain and found myself being tube fed and tested in a hospital. I was terrified by the loud noises, bright lights and unpredictable setting. I felt alone and utterly lost. We had been told that I may not live to see the coming Christmas. I remember praying for a special friend to help me. I began to regain strength, but the sadness prevailed, as did the severe daily meltdowns. I was unable to go out anywhere if my mum wasn’t with me… But then I met my ‘Autism Dogs CIC’ Assistance Dog ‘Ryder.’ My anxiety faded away and my Mum shed tears as she saw me smile for the first time in years. Ryder and I now have a flat of our own, visit new places and spend every moment together! Ryder alerts to my anxiety and provides deep pressure therapy and interrupts self-injury when meltdowns occur. He has responded to emergencies without specific training to do so. He barked for help when he couldn’t rouse me after I fell unconscious on the floor when home alone. He responded to a head injury by bringing a phone to me and then laid by my side until help arrived. He has been in ambulances, laid with me on hospital beds after I’ve had major surgery, licked tears away when I have been crying out in agony and even alerted me to a break-in. He brings water and medicine to me when I’m very unwell. Amongst his trained tasks are medication prompts, item retrievals, anxiety response and Deep Pressure Therapy which helped me to sleep through the night for the first time. We say that Ryder wears his joy on the outside. He is so full of enthusiasm for his job!
I find communication extremely challenging and was once mute for a period of months. I sometimes found it impossible to talk to members of my own family, yet with Ryder’s support, I can even talk to strangers! I am able to socialise more and hold conversations. He has given me the confidence to do things I never thought I could. I have even become Autism Dogs CIC’s Autism Ambassador. Best of all, Ryder’s example has helped others discover the benefits of Autism Assistance Dogs.
Ryder is a true hero because my life is now filled with more smiles than tears. I felt like a lost cause but now I feel more secure than I ever have before. My Assistance Dog is proof that challenges can be overcome and that an extraordinary dog can help to break down barriers, heal emotional pain and open the door to a brighter future. Now I can live alone and access the community. He is loyal and selfless, an answer to prayer, a superdog and my soulmate. My wonderful friend has dedicated his own life to transforming mine!