Michael Sears, an eight year old boy on the autism spectrum is finally sleeping in his bed at night. His parents are calling it a miracle. The magic behind this miracle? A service dog named Gigi.
Although Sears is high functioning, he seems to get into some dangerous situations. In an interview with NBC 10, Michael Sear’s mother shared the story of the new friendship of her son and Gigi. A few months back, Sears was found hanging out of the second floor window watching balloons fly in the sky. Elyse Kelly, Michael Sear’s mother, told NBC 10 “And that’s when we had been doing research on the service dog.”
Gigi and Michael Sears met by chance. Michael and his family traveled to North Carolina in May. They visited a kennel that specializes in breeding service dogs for individuals with autism just to see if the program would be a good fit. “We came around the corner and there was Miss Gigi,” Elyse Kelly said to NBC 10.
Similar to Sears, Gigi has her own obstacles she’s had to overcome. Gigi is a cancer survivor who happened to be at the kennel recovering. “When we met Gigi, there was just connection between the two of them,” Kelly said, NBC 10 “She came right up to him.”
Gigi and Sears are now attached at the hip. With the help of Gigi, Sears is safe. Sears would sometimes take off on his bike or run away. Gigi is trained to keep Sears out of trouble and away from the road. ”She will chase him, and mouth him- like his leg or his arm and literally follow him until he brings his bike home,” Kelly said.
The two are inseparable, and Sears is finally sleeping in his own bed at night. Gigi is healthy and found a forever home at the Kelly residence. Michael, similarly, has found a forever friend.
Service animals to support individuals with autism are on the rise. The Americans with Disability Act defines service dogs as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.” These service animals play a significant role in an individuals with autism’s life. Service animals have an impact on sociability, sensory management, and increased ability to bond.
Learn about service dog scholarships available to individuals on the autism spectrum.