45 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www. ShemCreekRes taurant s . com Autism. The word may invoke some preconceived notions and conjure up movie scenes from Tom Cruise’s “Rain Main.” But as a mother of a young adult on the spectrum, I’ll be the first to tell you, just like neurotypical kids are all different, so are neurodivergent ones. Sometimes my son Luke (19) — a brilliant classical guitarist, musician and techie — just like all of us, needs to decompress from the stress of everyday life. Enter Miss Daisy Sweetgrass. This F1 Berne Doodle mix — half-standard poodle (think very smart) and half Bernese Mountain dog (think very gentle) — helps balance out the girl to guy ratio in our household. I finally get to buy pink stuff. As a Certified Emotional Support Animal, Daisy has become a vital part of our family. Daisy is up-and-at-em at 7 a.m. when I’m brewing the day’s first pot of coffee. So, as our two boys trickle down the stairs soon after, Miss Daisy is there to offer an enthusiastic good morning. There’s something spectacular about the way an animal, with all their pure love and excitement, can make even the grumpiest teen smile. When asked about how he likes Daisy, Luke, who is a man of sometimes few words, will say, “good.” Then there’s the moment I decided she needed a little trim of her “bangs” and all of the sudden, these big brown eyes were gazing right at us. Luke, initially a bit worried that mom plus scissors might equal a bad haircut, said, “huh, her eyes are so pretty.” More than just being cute, Daisy fits the bill of a support animal perfectly. She is a cheerleader in the down moments, a comforter in the anxious ones and an energetic friend in a game of fetch. When I first approached my husband about the idea of adding this “baby” into the family, we agreed it would be great for Luke. Just think of the purpose, responsibility, love and companionship. Here’s the real kicker. Little did we realize that Daisy would become an emotional support, not just for Luke, but for our entire clan. All four of us have realized that Daisy rallies the family better than any episode of “American Idol.” Now when we head to the beach, there’s always a fifth body in the Jeep. We have found ourselves talking about all the “firsts” we can introduce Daisy to as we go about life in Mount Pleasant. My long-time aversion to social media has even softened as Daisy Sweetgrass now has her own Instagram. In the world these days, it’s so easy to get emotionally hijacked by negative headlines. This teddy-bear-of-an-animal has surprised our family with new perspective and joy. Let’s face it, we all can use a little more Daisy in our day! Autism andMan’s Best Friend Our world is coming upDaisies BY LEANNE MANGAN BUSH our town For more information on autism, visit AutismSpeaks.com. Resource material for service animals can be found at USAServiceDogRegistration.com. Al ec , Da i sy and Luke.