Dogs are transforming the lives of children on the autism spectrum.
The Buddy System tells the intimate stories of three families touched by autism, who experience a remarkable change when a specially trained autism assistance dog comes into their lives. The incidence of autism has increased at an alarming rate. In 2000, one-in-150 children was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Today, that number is one-in-68. So there is a high probability that that someone you know, a neighbor, work colleague, a relative—or perhaps even you—have been directly affected by an autism diagnosis.
Autism assistance dogs not only become best friends or “buddies” with the children they serve, but they are also powerful therapeutic tools who help kids on the spectrum develop essential social skills, heighten emotional empathy, and level the playing field so they can finally feel like they belong.
Megan Smith-Harris, Producer/Director. Megan’s career encompasses documentary, television, film, theater, and radio both in Canada and the United States. She is the president and co-owner of Pyewackitt Productions, an independent production company with a commitment to create high quality, socially relevant programs with a unique perspective. Megan produced, directed and co-wrote the critically acclaimed documentary TRIAL BY FIRE: Lives Re-forged. The film has aired on PBS, been dubbed, "a must-see" by Real Screen, "emotionally potent” by the Los Angeles Times, and “a truly important film” by PBS International. Megan also helmed three documentaries for the Women’s Entertainment Network: SURROGATE STORIES, CHILD BRIDES, and POLYGAMY. In addition, programs and moderates the New Perspectives Documentary Series in Wilton, Connecticut where she lives with her husband and business partner, Bill Harris, their son Jack, and a very energetic rescue dog named Duncan.
Bill Harris, Executive Producer. Bill is CEO and co-owner of Pyewackitt Productions. A television programming executive with 30 years broadcast and cable experience, Bill has worked with ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, and spent 16 years as head of production for the A&E Television Networks (A&E, History, Lifetime and Biography channels). Bill joined A&E in 1994 overseeing Documentary Programming, including the development, launch and unprecedented success of the Emmy Award-winning BIOGRAPHY® series. As VP of Production, he managed the launch of THE HISTORY CHANNEL before becoming SVP of Production and Broadcast Operations. A multiple Emmy, Telly, Ace, Cine and Vision Award winner, Bill has been inducted into the National Association of Minorities in Cable (NAMIC) Hall of Fame and was named a Cable Maverick by the Cable Center in 2008. More recently, Bill was executive producer on two Oscar® qualifying documentaries, including DIGITAL DHARMA and TRIAL BY FIRE: LIVES RE-FORGED He also directed and produced THE TACKLE GIRLS: ONE TEAM, ONE MISSION, a feature documentary on the world champion gold medal women's football team from the USA.