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Who Would Have Known: Autism and Stress, Service Animal Style

At one point the majority of us will feel the effects of stress. Some situations amplify its effect.

I would like to thank all of you who have been following the story of our dealings with Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism since April of last year.  Your support has been very important, especially in the very beginning.

I have never thought of myself as a troublemaker, or one who likes to stir the pot just to get people riled up.  I make every effort to move through life acting with honor and integrity.  In day to day dealings it is much easier to be honest and up-front, to tell the truth to each and every person.  In this way there would not be a multitude of stories to remember because inevitably the story will change based upon who is listening to make it more believable or appealing to them.

I like to think that most people are honest the majority of the time.  I do not believe that anyone still walking this earth is honest all the time (This is my opinion and not a fact).  Those people who are chronic liars put themselves at risk for increased health problems.  You see, lying triggers the release of the same stress hormones released by the bodies fight-or-flight response.  This increase in these stress hormones causes a boost in blood sugar levels and triglycerides (body fats) to be used by the body for fuel, an increase in both heart rate and respiration, a decrease in the digestive process and hypersensitivity of muscle tissue as the body prepares itself for a hasty retreat or a standoff.  This chronic anxiety and outpouring of stress hormones can result in serious physical consequences, including:

  • suppression of the immune system
  • digestive disorders
  • muscle tension
  • short-term memory loss
  • premature coronary artery disease
  • heart attack

Excessive stress or anxiety may make a person become so irrational that they cannot focus on reality or think clearly.  At this point, they may begin to experience physical symptoms.  So why do I bring this up?  You see, it is the same reaction for both the person lying and the person on the other side who does not believe the liar but cannot convince others that the lie exists.

It has been demonstrated that a person who tells the truth consistently finds it easier to tell the truth and a person who habitually lies finds it easier to lie as time goes by.  And although it may become easier to lie over time the knowledge that they may get caught in their lie still causes the rise in the stress hormones.  As the lie builds so does the stress.  And think back to the person who has caught the liar and yet very few are willing to listen.  That person is also subject to the same stress response due to excessive worrying, and anxiety.

Putting this in the context of our situation: there are the families dealing with children diagnosed with Autism (no stress there, right), who have to daily contend with those who truly do not understand and frequently toss out judgements on their ability to parent (after all, if that were my child they wouldn’t act like that).  These families are in a constant struggle with schools, insurance companies, and some even their own families.  Now add onto this an organization that was initially viewed as a godsend that has become the albatross around their neck (How could they have possibly not known to check more closely. I know that I would have.)  It is always easy to sit on the outside and give advice.  We do already realize things that could have been done better and more effectively.  We saw some of the warning signs but in our defense they were plausibly explained to those of us with no experience with some of the processes.

I have heard multiple times “Why would you choose an organization that was not a recognized 501(c)3”?  We were told that they had applied for tax-exempt Non-Profit status from the IRS and were awaiting final determination AND their Facebook Page STILL shows them listed as a Non-Profit (Yes, Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism, I am looking at you while I say this).  I have never applied for Non-Profit status, nor formed a service organization and did not know how this process progresses.  I know a bit more now.  I knew very little of Service Animal Training and was very intimidated by the costs (expected family donation) in order to receive a service animal from many of the training organizations out there.  I now understand why the cost is so high but I hope you can see why an organization which requests approximately half of that would be so appealing.

Our stress level is very high, our health has been affected and yet we cannot just stop.  We must continue to move forward and care for our children.  We still have our responsibilities to meet despite what has happened.  It hurts to see the “LIKES” increasing on their Facebook page, but we know that we made the right decision in leaving this program.  It is far less stressful than the continuous uncertainty that was our life while we were part of it.

Please read our story and share it with all that you know.  It will help us immensely to know that people are listening and do believe.

Resources of Stress and Anxiety Reduction:

Livestrong: Tips On Reducing Stress Anxiety
WebMD: Blissing Out: 10 Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress On-the-Spot

Additional reading about our story:

WICS News Channel 20: Parents Raising Concerns Over Local Autism Group
Kitsap Sun: 
Kitsap County family speaks out about group that promised service dog
StinkerBabies: We Will Not Go Quietly,  Update: We Will Not Go Quietly, A White Blank Page and a Swelling Rage
Lindserella: Time To Light A Fire
Seattle Dog Spot: Kitsap County military family says group that promised service dog deceived them
I Speak of Dreams: Another Fleecing of the Autism Community, Service Dog Edition

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