Olive’s Journey: A Symphony of Hope in Autism Parenthood

Olive's Journey: A Symphony of Hope in Autism Parenthood

Woman hugging service dog.


When my son, Jaxx was born, I didn’t know much about parenting let alone raising a child with Autism. Initially, what seemed like normal baby behavior turned out to be stemming—repetitive movements or sounds. I didn’t realize at the time, but these were all symptoms of Autism.

Despite being a single mom, I persisted, figuring out ways to help Jaxx have a future. It wasn’t until last year when in Las Vegas for a work conference that we unexpectedly crossed paths with GDA| TLC. 

My son, who had to come with me on the trip, was having a particularly difficult time that week. But when we met service dog, Bobby, Jaxx’s stress level immediately dropped. That week I saw my son try new things, go new places, and he never had a meltdown. This was a whole new world for us.

In May of this year, Jaxx and I were paired with his new service dog, Olive. His progress has been nothing short of remarkable! Olive’s companionship has eased Jaxx’s anxieties in unfamiliar situations, minimizing meltdowns and bringing positive changes.

Before we had Olive, I had to adapt my routines and surroundings to ensure Jaxx’s safety.  Since I live near a river, I installed an alarm system and raised the door locks to ensure he couldn’t reach them and run out. I couldn’t enjoy a long shower without worrying about Jaxx escaping. We had a bunkbed in his room because I had to sleep in there to make sure he was okay at night. 

Olive’s impact on both of our lives’ has been profound. Jaxx and her read books together. My son is reading! We attend GDA|TLC fundraisers together. My son is speaking! I can’t tell you what a 180 our lives have taken. My tears of sorrow have shifted to tears of joy. 

Olive has given me hope for my son’s future.  

I’m incredibly thankful for the support from GDA|TLC, volunteers, donors, and our community. You have given me the invaluable gift of peace and hope.

Sincerely Grateful,

Ali, Jaxx, and Olive

Jaxxon and Service Dog Olive

Autism affects an estimated 1 in 36 children in the U.S.

About Us

At Guide Dogs of America, we transform lives through partnerships with service dogs. We breed, raise, and train guide dogs for individuals who are blind/visually impaired and service dogs for veterans and children with autism. We also place facility dogs with professionals in hospitals, schools, and courtrooms. Our highly skilled canines become trusted companions that increase people’s confidence, mobility, and independence. All programs and services, including transportation, personalized training, room/board, and postgraduate support, are provided at no cost to the recipient.

Author: Dennis Williams