Here’s How A Dog Can Help Stop An Aspergers Meltdown

“It’s like a computer. There’s too much input, there’s not enough output, you lose control and you crash.”

That’s what it feels like to have a meltdown, says Danielle Jacobs, a 24-year-old woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. Earlier this month, she posted a video of her Rottweiler, Samson, demonstrating the trained responses to behaviors that are typical of Jacobs’ involuntary meltdowns. It’s since been viewed more than 2.4 million times.

What may be most incredible about the scene is that Jacobs trained Samson herself. She adopted him from Halo Animal Rescue in Phoenix, Arizona, four years ago, when he was just one, and has been training him to assist her since. Samson has earned the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen and Community Canine titles and successfully completed the public access test for service dogs.

“I had prior experience because I worked with shelter dogs and trained them in obedience,” she told The Huffington Post. She said she had to ask her mom what her meltdowns looked like in order to train Samson as in-home service dog.

Jacobs said she tends to experience such episodes every month, but the frequency can vary depending on how overwhelmed she feels.

“When I have a meltdown, I often have self-injurious behavior and I often self-harm,” she explained. In the video, when Jacobs hits herself in the chest and head repeatedly, Samson uses his paw and his body to block her hands from her head. But Jacobs stressed that the dog is not comforting her, as he may appear to do.

“He responds on action instead of emotion,” she said. “That’s how I trained him.”

And when 120-pound Samson moves to lie across her lap, he’s providing Jacobs with therapeutic —> Read More