In Focus, episode 1: Service dog helps navigate life with autism
By Ben Flores, Cronkite News | Friday, March 17, 2017
In the first episode of In Focus, producer Ben Flores talks with 25-year-old Lynsie Andreasky about living with autism. Lynsie was diagnosed with high-functioning autism when she was 16. Since then, she has faced many challenges, including depression and overwhelming anxiety. Lynsie shares her story of overcoming challenges thanks to a service dog named Kaycee. We learn how even the smallest dogs are trained to help reduce anxiety and facilitate social interaction.
Autism is a condition that occurs in one in every 64 people born in Arizona, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is often called an “invisible disability.” At a glance, it may be hard to identify someone who has autism.
On the inside, however, symptoms can make life for someone with autism challenging.
These are challenges 25-year-old Lynsie Andreasky knows well. She was diagnosed with high-functioning autism when she was 16.
Lynsie has struggled with anxiety, social processing disorder and depression. Going out in public was too overwhelming. She rarely left home without a parent.
But, two years ago, everything changed.
A 6-year-old service dog named Kaycee came into Andreasky’s life. Through a service-dog program called “Dandy Dawgs,” Lynsie trained Kaycee to help reduce anxiety and improve social interaction.
Lynsie said Kaycee, a poodle-schnauzer mix, has enabled her to do things she otherwise wouldn’t have thought about doing alone. She aspires to go to school out of state after Yavapai College, and she can go to places like Target, the mall and her doctor’s office without her parents.
Lynsie’s mother, Trish Andreasky, is a special education teacher at Heritage Middle School in Chino Valley. She said Kaycee has helped Lynsie take more control of her life.