We are the proud parents of two boys and one girl. The reason we are reaching out to friends and family is because at 18-months old our sons, Teddy and Henry were both diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Teddy also has cognitive disabilities.
ASD results in difficulty with communication and interaction with other people, restricts interests and causes repetitive behaviors, including self-harm. These symptoms inhibit their ability to function properly in school and other areas of life.
Although we are VERY fortunate to have insurance and both boys receive intensive therapy, the on-going care for them has been challenging. Services for both boys involve over 60 hours a week of therapy that include Applied Behavior Analysis, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Social Groups.
Close relatives have been a constant support to our family and have given their time and financial support to make sure our Teddy and Henry receive the care they need.
The reason we started a GoFundMe account is because their therapists recommend they are supported by a specially trained service dogs.
These dogs are trained to identify and assist those with ASD when they are undergoing an anxiety attack, frustration with the ability to communicate, and also provide sensory input to help keep them calm. Research has shown that these dogs can help shorten autism melt-downs and provide a safe companion when sensory input is needed. Also, as with most kids with autism, they have a tendency to “elope” or runaway. Studies have shown that 66% of eloping ASD kids have put themselves at risk of being injured by car traffic and 25% or by drowning. An unknown fact is that the calmness of water attracts ASD kids and they have a significantly higher rate of drownings. We have had our own scares with our kids. The reason I mention this is in addition to the psychological support, the dog also serves as an “anchor” when tethered to the child. The dogs are trained to prevent the child from eloping by sitting and preventing the child from running away.
We have researched these therapy dogs and have found several credible organizations that train these dogs and place them with those with ASD. As with anything else, the training is not free and can take two years. Typical training costs up to $60k per dog. Families are asked by the organization to pay a $17,000 fee towards the cost of the dog. For two dogs we are looking at $34,000. Our goal is to raise at least $15k in support. We are humbled to ask for this support so that our sons can have the companionship of a service dog that will help them develop and continue to improve their livelihood.
Thank you so much for your consideration and generosity,
The Rassilyer Family