2013 NEADS Spring Graduation

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Tiffany, with Rowan in his graduation cap (photo by Michael Stone)

What an incredible day we had this past Sunday, April 7, 2013! Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School rolled out the red carpet for NEADS and all our graduates and did an INCREDIBLE job hosting our Spring 2013 graduation ceremony. The facilities were beautiful, the auditorium was perfect, and the staff and students of Monty Tech could not have been more helpful. In particular, 1st Sgt Paul Jornet and his JR ROTC cadets made every person in attendance feel welcome. A huge thank you to Principal Nicholas DeSimone for graciously hosting NEADS at his school. Thank you to the Audio/Visual dept for going above and beyond to make sure that the ceremony went off without a hitch; Autobody/Collision Repair for the incredible work they have done on our donated Subaru; the Culinary Arts dept for preparing food and cake for graduation day; Graphic Communications for their ongoing support of our communications efforts; and Industrial Technology for building the “kitchen” pictured below especially for our on-stage demo!

We are honored and awed by the generosity of the staff and students of Monty Tech and are so grateful for this growing partnership! Photos by Michael Stone

Thank you, also, to the wonderful group of staff and volunteers who made graduation day possible.

Cassidy & Trixie: True Friendship in Action

This post was written by Stephanie Dufault, Cassidy’s mother

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Cassidy with her assistance dog Trixie

Thank you again for everyone involved in training Trixie. To most people she is just a dog, but to my daughter Cassidy who has autism she is much more than just a dog. She is a companion who will not mock her for having difficulty speaking, she will not think Cassidy is strange or different because she repeats things and has a lot of trouble reading and learning. She will not tease her, bully her, or leave her out when playing like her peers do. She will not scold her for being inappropriate and get angry at her for acting out like I do. Instead she will provide Cassidy with the comfort and confidence that only a dog can give because Trixie does not know Cassidy is different. All Trixie knows is that she loves my daughter, and my daughter loves her. The positive effect of Trixie on Cassidy is quite noticeable. Cassidy is calm, focused, and happy around her. In contrast to the challenges of functioning in a world that requires communicating like everyone else, being with Trixie offers Cassidy a place where she is not judged and is unconditionally loved and accepted. Communicating intuitively through actions is encouraged in the world of dogs. I have also noticed it provides a positive outlet for Cassidy to practice using her words without judgement or evaluation. Trixie responds to Cassidy’s words without the correction that she encounters throughout her daily life. The benefit of her self esteem cannot be understated. Without NEADS and everyone at the prison [who trained and worked with Trixie] this wouldn’t have happened for Cassidy, so I can not thank you enough. — Stephanie Slattery, Cassidy Dufault’s mother

8-year-old Cassidy Learns she is Matched with an Assistance Dog — Video


Cassidy is an 8-year-old girl with autism who has been waiting to be matched with the perfect NEADS assistance dog. This is her reaction when her mom tells her that NEADS has matched her with a yellow lab named Trixie.