Amanda Granados thought she would never be able to hug her son. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 7, Joey never wanted to be touched, not even by his mom.
Something amazing happened a few months ago when Joey, now a teenager, met the shelter dog Roxy, a gray Pit-Bull with floppy ears and soulful eyes. After playing with her for a only a short time, Joey went up to his mother and gave her a huge kiss on the cheek!
It was a moment Amanda will never forget.
If you aren’t already crying, just wait until you read what Joey told Today:
“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.”
Joey’s experience with Roxy is not unique, which is awesome news! Autism service dogs are growing in pawpularity due to the positive impact pups have on those with autism. In fact, the slogan for Autism Service Dogs of America is “a child who connects to a dog, connects to the world.” As the number of autism diagnoses grows (according to Autism Speaks there’s been a 100% increase in the past decade), so does the number of autism service dogs. These pups provide a much needed buffer and mode of communication for many people on the autism spectrum.
In 2013, a study showed that children with autism are more likely to so more expressive, positive social behaviors when they interact with animals.
Of course, autism affects people differently and dogs do not help everyone on the spectrum.
But for Amanda and Joey, Roxy has been a life-saver. Amanda says that when they met Roxy at Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center, the bond between the two was instantaneous.
“She is literally his best friend. He can be in the foulest mood, and she comes along and it’s like a light. She doesn’t care about his differences, she just loves him.”
Watch the video below to see Amanda and Joey tell their story.
High paws to Joey, Amanda and Roxy for sharing their pawsome story with the world!
All photos from Today.