Cody Gotchall is a Linn-Benton Community College student who lives with autism and the effects of a traumatic brain injury, which affects his speech and recognition capacities. Cody Gotchall has aspirations of advocating on behalf of those with disabilities and has a particular interest in autism service dogs, which help improve emotional stability and communicativeness in young people with autism.
A recent U.S. News and World Report article recounts the initial interaction between a 5-year-boy with autism and his new service dog. As described by the boy’s mother, her son has difficulties with daily activities like washing and dressing and with establishing connections with other people. After a two-year wait, the American family living in Japan traveled to Ohio to meet Tornado, a service dog provided by the nonprofit 4 Paws for Ability.
Upon meeting Tornado, the young boy quickly developed a connection with him, laying and cuddling with the dog, a scene that elicited tears of joy in the boy’s mother. As part of his service training, Tornado will learn techniques of behavior disruption and acquire the skills to take part in search and rescue missions.