There is something we have not shared with many people yet, but we need to ask for help.
Muffin Man has been diagnosed with Autism, Feeding Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Hypotonia, and Dysphagia. He wears orthotic braces on his ankles.
Muffin Man is treasured 7 year old love of a boy. He is incredibly loving, protective and curious. MM has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. MM loves to read, to ask many questions about anything that interests him, to solve math and logic problems. He loves sports and is very athletic.
MM struggles constantly with behavioral outbursts triggered by his Autism and Anxiety. He has incredibly high standards for himself and when he is unable to meet these standards, gets frustrated, or if he feels as if he has been the victim of an injustice, he begins to decompensate, quickly appears angry and may become violent. His developmental pediatrician says that this is not actually anger but anxiety manifesting as anger. When looking at his face during these episodes, it looks like MM is not even there, his face visibly changes. It is very difficult to get him out of these episodes and avoiding them is a much better option.
Muffin Man has been suspended from school and a summer camp which offers special needs inclusion, despite his IEP, 504 and BIP, for behaviors that are a clear manifestation of his disabilities. Most of the time, MM is a joy and he has learned to be able to deal with several small triggers each day, but when there is the one that puts him over the edge, he is physically incapable of keeping it together. He tries so hard. But it is just beyond his abilities. He needs help.
MM's therapists and doctors have recommended a SERVICE DOG and we have done the research. Waiting times for low to no cost service dogs can be several years long, with those for service dogs costing $15,000-20,000 still taking 18-24 months. Muffin Man cannot wait that long. He needs help ASAP and this means we will need to have a service dog privately trained, which will also be more cost effective. In preparation for the new family member, we will have the added expense of putting in a fence. If anyone would like additional details about the expenses, we are happy to provide.
There are so many ways a service dog can help our boy, but we need help making it happen. A service dog will be able to:
§ Help him recognize his anxiety triggers and provide calming deep pressure
§ Alert adults when he needs assistance coping and he cannot put it into words
§ Support during transitions both at home and school
§ Help relating and interacting appropriately with his peers
§ Alert adults to low blood sugar to help with body and mood regulation
§ The trainer anticipates additional tasks will be identified throughout the training period
Additionally, we realized that if we participate in the training of his service dog, he will begin building a bond immediately. He can have the benefits of a companion now and as soon as possible, have the benefits of a service dog. We have learned through discussions with the trainer and our research that a Labrador is likely the best fit for Muffin Man.
In our conversations with Muffin Man about having a service dog, it has become clear to us that this is the right path for our family. He is excited at the idea of a puppy to teach and train. He said today “when we’re training the puppy I’m gonna cuddle him a lot too.”
Please consider giving what you can to help Muffin Man get his service dog. It is difficult to admit that we need help, but we will do whatever we need to do to make Muffin Man's life just a little bit easier. Thank you so much for taking the time to read his story.