Local Boy with Autism Bonds with Service Dog

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Cement City, MI - Sam and Teddy are best buddies.

In this Jackson County Home, a boy and his dog are constant companions.

But Sampson isn't an average four-year-old, and Teddy isn't a typical pet.

The one-year-old golden doodle is a service dog that helps Sam deal with autism.

"When he is having a hard time, Teddy will usually be able to pick up on that and help him through that process," says Sam's mom Stephani Morris.

When we first met Sam and his mom over one year ago, the family was on a mission to get a service dog to for Sam.

Their story tugged at the heart strings of viewers, and thanks to some generous donations, furry friend Teddy arrived in Cement City almost two months ago.

"The community is just rallying around you know children so that they can have a sustainable future," says his mom.

Teddy is with Sam all the time.

The golden doodle stops Sam from running off and keeps him calm with deep pressure hugs.

"You notice an overall calmness that we didn't have before," says Stephani.

A lot has changed in one year, instead of having a meltdown every 20 minutes, now Sam goes 4 or 5 hours without a tear.

"He's definitely calm, he uses his words more, he works through things more," says Sam's mom.

Sam's therapist Miss Sarah with the Comprehensive Speech and Therapy Center in Jackson calls Sam a fun, social little boy, who is making incredible progress.

"He comes to the clinic, and then we also come to the house, we go to the daycare a little bit as well. So, we try to see him in all those environments," says Sarah Johnson who is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

And come fall, Teddy will head to school at Lincoln Head Start with Sam.

Teddy is an educational tool that can bark back, and cuddle when Sam needs it. Going out in public is a challenge for Sam when his senses get overwhelmed.

"It gives Sam a chance to you know basically rub something, rub his fur or give him a hug or you know something like that to ground his senses," says mom Stephani.

But a service dog like Teddy doesn't come cheap, training and getting Teddy to Cement City cost over $10,000.

For Michigan kids 18 months to five-years-old, Medicaid covers autism therapy and services.

It's relief that helped make it possible for Sam's mom to quit her job and start working from home.

For a little boy so full of life, who loves to sing and conduct an interview or two, it's only fitting to have a puppy pal that can keep up.

For more on autism services for your child, contact your local Community Mental Health.

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