Alexandria, Virginia

Animals are Makayla’s passion. She currently works at a bird shop, and Miko is her support cockatiel. Makayla, sixteen, and Miko have been together over a year, and Makayla’s mother can see the difference the support bird has made in helping Makayla cope with her challenges brought on by autism.

Makayla’s dream job is to work with larger animals. She wants to be a dog behaviorist and a Certified Service Dog Trainer so that she can “help people with disabilities who may need a service dog to have a better life. The way my service dog, Bimmer, has helped me.”

Makyala says, along with Batman, her hero is her mother. Her mother and father are strong advocates for Makayla and her brother, Ryan, also autistic, as well as other autistic teens. Her mother contacted legal aid for assistance to ensuring the school system abided by the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for her children. After years of fighting with the school system about her children’s education, her parents opted to homeschool her and her brother. Makayla continues dreaming of her future and, once she obtains her desired superpower (to communicate with animals), the new-age Dr. Dolittle will be unstoppable.