Autism is a very difficult disease to have. Not just for the person with autism, but also their loved ones. Depending on where someone falls on the autism spectrum, symptoms can range from ones that if you weren’t a doctor with a specialty in autism you’d never notice them, all the way up to some pretty extreme emotional and behavioral disorders.
Joey Granados was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. It is a higher functioning form of autism, but still has very noticeable symptoms. As one could imagine, getting this news from doctors was a tough thing for Joey’s mom, Amanda.
With Asperger’s, a severe dislike of physical contact is common. Sometimes, physical contact with someone with Asperger’s can result in violent outlashing. Behavior and social skills don’t come easy to those with Asperger’s, and for some can be the worst part of all.
The worst part of any of this, for Amanda at least, was that she couldn’t have that physical contact with her son. To never really be able to kiss, cuddle or love your child like every good mother wants to by nature is crippling to some, and can cause long term damage mentally and emotionally speaking.
Amanda thought that it was just going to be an impossibility. That is until a few months ago when someone new came into Joey’s life. This someone’s name was Roxy. She was tall, had a silly disposition and was covered in gray fur. That’s right, Roxy is a dog.
“I get emotional thinking about it,” said Amanda in an interview. “For all those years, he wouldn’t hold my hand, he wouldn’t hug me — it was all part of the autism — but this dog has taught him how to give and show affection. He holds my hand now! He hugs me! The first time I got a kiss on the cheek was when Roxy came home.”
Joey is now 14, and things do seem to be getting a bit easier for him. He gives the credit to Roxy, his best friend, for showing him how to love, and for helping him to pick up on those social cues that those with Aspergers’ just seem to have so much trouble with.
“I didn’t have too many friends growing up, but then we got Roxy and I’ve been able to make friends ever since,” said Joey. “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.”
Thanks to the incredible power of love and friendship, Roxy has taught Joey many things that without her, he might have never known.