YouTuber Danielle Jacobs wants to show the world what living with Asperger’s syndrome is like. That’s why earlier this month, she posted a video of herself with her service dog, Samson, which helps shed light on life with the condition.
“This is what having Aspergers is like,” Jacobs writes in the video description. “[This] really happened and it’s not easy to open myself and share what it’s like on a daily basis.”
The video shows an emotional Jacobs hitting herself in the chest and head while Samson does his best to put a gentle stop to it. The dog is trained to respond to depressive episodes and self-harm, and this time it happened to be caught on video. The clip is hard to watch, but it offers a crucial glimpse into the life of someone on the autism spectrum:
It’s fairly common for those on the autism spectrum to engage in self-injurious behavior, like the type Jacob exhibits in the video. Such behavior can include slapping one’s head and face, eye-gouging, or picking and scratching at one’s skin, according to the National Autistic Society, which provides this helpful page for strategies on how to deal with self-injury.
Jacobs uses her YouTube presence to document her daily life of living with and training her service dog. Her videos show her working with Samson on how to react to these emotionally charged moments, but they also show her teaching him to hold a grocery bag, how to retrieve a full bottle of water off a countertop, and even how to retrieve medication that’s in a different room.
There’s a precedent for people with autism to use service dogs to help them navigate everyday life. According to the website for the non-profit Paws With a Cause, service dogs “act as constant companions to children with autism to help them improve social interactions and relationships, expand verbal and nonverbal communication, teach life skills, increase interest in activities and decrease stress within the family.”