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Tommy gets his Autism Service Dog!

$320 of $320 goal

Raised by 8 people in 34 months
Author Jeannie Davide-Rivera  FLORENCE, SC
This is Tommy, he is a wonderful, brilliant three-year-old who loves to watch Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, and play with his trucks and trains!. Tommy has autism.

Tommy has many difficult days. He often has difficulty communicating his needs and wants (most prevalent when he is overloaded or upset), problems sleeping, sensitivities, and gets easily overloaded resulting in meltdowns. He needs near constant attention, vigilance, and sensory input (mostly touch).

Like many autistic children, Tommy has a tendency to wander especially if something grabs his attention, a phenomena known as elopement. Elopement has been the causes of too many autistic children losing their lives. As a parent of an autistic child, this is a constant fear. Another common behavior that Tommy displays is bolting; he's a runner.

It could happen in the supermarket standing on the check-out line, while he is being walked to the car, or (and very often lately) whenever someone opens the front. Without any warning, Tommy will bolt down the supermarket aisle or out the door into the parking lot and traffic, or will run out of the front door into the road, or down the sidewalk leaving the whole family running after him. Tommy does not respond to verbal commands like, "stop" or "wait" while in the midst of taking-off.

Bolting, and elopement are very real dangers to an autistic child who has no real sense of danger, and for us has been the cause of limiting our family's time going out into public. It affects every aspect of lives including even seemingly simple tasks as going to the bank, or the supermarket.

We are now taking steps to fundraise for an autism service dog for Tommy. A service dog trained especially for him, tailored to his specific needs will allow us to safely enter into public spaces. The dogs are trained to stop the child from bolting, and from wandering. This is a necessity to ensure that Thomas is safe. Additionally, the dogs are trained in search and rescue in order to track a child who has wanders, or escapes from the home, or become separated from us in any way. But--that is not all an autism service dog does!

His service dog will help calm him during meltdowns, and provide sensory input, and pressure to help sooth him. He will alert us to his wakings in the night, and be a constantly companion for Tommy for years to come! Obtaining this dog will be a tremendous help forTommy's emotional regulation, confidence, and independence--and for us as a family provide much needed relief and peace of mind.

THE PROBLEM: The selection and extensive training is time consuming and expensive. Service dogs can cost upwards of $20,000!

Recipients are required to raise funds for the cost of the dog and their training. The best two programs we have found, that do not have waiting lists from 2-6 years long, (I don't need Tommy safe in 5 years, I need him safe NOW!) cost 14,000 and 16,500 respectively. Then we will be required to travel out of state for a two-week training period (and pay travel expenses for our family of six) where we will become certified in handling his service dog. After considering all the cost, it appears that we need to raise approximately $15,000 (no easy task). However, these dogs "work" for ten to twelve years, so this will be a long-term investment in Tommy's future.

Over the next few months, we will be doing everything we can to raise funds for Tommy and keep everyone who has helped us along the way up-to-date with our fundraising efforts, and God willing, Tommy's Service Dog's placement. This will truly be a life-changer for us and for my little guy!

Thank you all in advance. Remember, no amount is too small, if you can help and are willing every bit counts! If you cannot, will you please just pass this along? A multitude of people helping in small amounts can make a tremendous difference in the life a child!

Jeannie Davide-Rivera
Author of Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed; Growing up with Undiagnosed Autism

For more information about our family, (I have four boys, three of which are on the autism spectrum), and my book visit my website and blog at www.aspiewriter.com


IMPORTANT UPDATE: In June I applied for a Scholarship/Grant for an Autism Service Dog from SDWR (Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers). The grant program would award a full-scholarship/grant for a an Autism Service Dog (worth $25,000) to the recipricant. I knew that it was a long-shot, but one worth giving a try.

In the beginning of July 2014, we were informed that we won the grant! Out of over 600 applications, Tommy was chosen to receive a Service Dog--completely free of charge!  The wait time; however, would still be 6-9 months while waiting for our doggie to be trained and ready to come home to live with us.  None of it felt real--but the time has finally come. Our Service Dog will be coming home to live with us on Feb.7 , 2015!

We are absolutely thrilled, and would like to thank everyone who donated to help as it made even paying for the application fee possible.
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Update 3
Posted by Jeannie Davide Rivera
27 months ago
   Share
IMPORTANT UPDATE: In June I applied for a Scholarship/Grant for an Autism Service Dog from SDWR (Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers). The grant program would award a full-scholarship/grant for a an Autism Service Dog (worth $25,000) to the recipricant. I knew that it was a long-shot, but one worth giving a try.

In the beginning of July 2014, we were informed that we won the grant! Out of over 600 applications, Tommy was chosen to receive a Service Dog--completely free of charge! The wait time; however, would still be 6-9 months while waiting for our doggie to be trained and ready to come home to live with us. None of it felt real--but the time has finally come. Our Service Dog will be coming home to live with us on Feb.7 , 2015!

We are absolutely thrilled, and would like to thank everyone who donated to help as it made even paying for the application fee possible.
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Update 2
Posted by Jeannie Davide Rivera
34 months ago
   Share
Aspie Teen is awesome! He donated his allowance to his brother's fund!
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Update 1
Posted by Jeannie Davide Rivera
34 months ago
   Share
Yay! We are super excited to receive our first donation! It is going to be a long road, but every long journey begins with a single step...in fact, now that I think of it..all journeys are only a series of tiny steps--just lots of them!
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Read a Previous Update
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$320 of $320 goal

Raised by 8 people in 34 months
Created May 20, 2014
Author Jeannie Davide-Rivera  
MC
$100
Madeline Campbell
32 months ago
$50
Anonymous
32 months ago
SP
$20
Sara Parks
32 months ago

Getting help so that you can conquer your world is a great idea!

W
$50
Wanda
33 months ago

Love u guys..hope this helps.

VM
$20
Valerie MacIver
34 months ago
$50
Anonymous
34 months ago
AR
$20
Adam Rivera
34 months ago(Offline Donation)

Donating my allowance for your Tommy's dog.

HY
$10
Heather Y
34 months ago

Not much but to help you get started! :)

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