Vicki profiles Ashley, a 21 year old animal-loving shelter volunteer and a student at NECC (New England center for Children), an autism research and education center. Pets are not allowed at NECC or at the group home where Ashley lives, so Ashley gets her cat time at the two shelters where she volunteers, while, as the video feature tells us, learning important lessons about life.
We go along with Vicki and Ashley to the MetroWest Humane Society in Ashland, where Ashley volunteers.
Excerpts from the video feature transcript tell us:
“Some new studies are just catching up with that notion [that the company of animals is beneficial], showing, among other things, that pets can help kids with autism increase social skills, including improving their ability to comfort those in distress.
“Lauren Carr, the program specialist at the center, says animals are central to Ashley’s progress: “She clearly has a love for animals. Because of who she is, she doesn’t necessarily recognize a lot of the social cues that you or I would recognize. I think in working with her relationships with the cats and with MetroWest and teaching her what the different cat body language is, she’s been able to incorporate some of that into some social cues that you or I would pick up on but she can’t pick up on.”
“Wendy Frost, the shelter attendant, has seen the change firsthand: “It took a while to explain to her their behaviors, their body language. When to stay away, when to not. But she’s come a long way.”
“Wendy sees something spectacular in Ashley: “She brings light here. Light and love. She’s a very good listener. She’s a hard worker. I just adore her.”
“Wednesday’s are a good day. What the cats give to us, she gives back to them.””