Trigger warning: this post deals with self-harm.
A young woman with Asperger’s syndrome has courageously shared the moment her dog Samson stopped her from self-harming during a breakdown.
Danielle Jacobs, 24, was first diagnosed with Asperger’s — an autism spectrum disorder considered to be on the ‘high-functioning’ end of the spectrum — in 2013.
She adopted her much-loved four-year old Rottweiler Samson from an animal rescue shelter in Phoenix, USA, and trained him to respond to her depressive episodes and stop her from self-harming.
Danielle posted a powerful video on YouTube showing faithful Samson standing on his hind legs and gently batting Danielle’s arms away as she begins to self harm.
The young woman shared the moving footage online last month to help raise awareness, writing “this is what Aspergers is like.”
Watch the video here. Post continues below:
Of the dog’s response time, Danielle writes: “It appears the response is late but it’s actually supposed to be as I’m coming out of the meltdown.”
In Australia, assistance dogs are commonly used to help those with autism. Guide Dogs Australia runs an Autism Assistance Dog Program that focuses on improving the quality of life of families with children living with autism, who may have difficulty with social interactions and exhibit repetitive behaviours or a restricted range of interests. The dogs are trained to help encourage independence and manage situations that people with autism may find challenging.
It is believed that around 20 to 30 percent of people with autism will self-harm, and the UK National Autistic Society reports that people with autism who have complex needs or learning disabilities are more likely to engage in severe forms of self-injury.
In 2012, Asperger‘s syndrome was removed from the manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose patients with medical disorders.
Although it’s no longer an official disorder, some people including Danielle, continue to self-identify using the term.
If you need help with self-harm or suicidality, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
You can also call the Autism Advisory and Support service, which helps support, advocate, help, educate and guide families who have a family member with autism, on 1300 222 777.
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