He was diagnosed at 19 months old and is now six. Although we have safety bars on all of our windows, and locks on every door and cabinet in our house, and modified our railings so they go all the way to the ceiling now to prevent falls, a service dog would help him so much with safety! He could learn to sleep in his own bed, tethered to the dog - who is trained to bark to alert me if he is awake. Right now, he still sleeps in bed with me on one side and his 20-year-old college student sister on the other. We have a sliding lock at the very top of the inside of our bedroom door to prevent him from escaping without our notice while we are sleeping - which he did once before we had the lock!
Randy is certifed disabled through the state department of human services and requires constant hand-over-hand assistance and supervision. According to the state, the level of care required for his safety is nursing home level care - his paperwork states that he "qualifies for institutionalization." On his annual evaluations, he places in the less-than-first percentile rank in all areas tested. (I cried my heart out the first time I saw this). His county safety plan requires that he never be unattended - even for a minute - so when we use the bathroom, he has to come in with us.
A service dog would make it so he and I could go to the grocery store without him running off - the dog is trained to lay down when he attempts to wander or bolt, and would not allow him to wander out of the house or school. The dog would interrupt harmful behaviors, such as his attempts to scrape and eat drywall and other non-food items.
Please know that this child is still playful and silly! He sometimes get this little half-grin that I call his "Harrison Ford smile" when something pleases him. After years of no response or recognition of caregivers, he gets EXCITED to see me if I have to run out on an errand while the therapists are here. We have his schedule packed with 40 hours a week of therapies to help him learn basic skills - one of my favorites that they were able to teach him was how to drink out of a straw so that we could use Tupperware Sipper Seal cups in the car and around the house. I will share in an update just how they were able to teach this because it is amazing!
The company we would like to get our dog through expects a $13,500 donation (the rest of the cost of the dog they receive through corporate sponsors) and the other $2000 we are trying to raise is for the costs of traveling there. I (mom) have to fly to Oregon from Minneapolis and spend a week in a hotel there being trained to be the dog's master before they will place the dog in our home.
This will truly change Randy's life - AND the lives of his mom and two sisters! Thank you all so very much... if everyone who read this donated just a dollar, we could reach our goal so quickly and my sweet, giggly little boy would be safer and happier!
To learn more about autism service dogs and Autism Service Dogs of America, please visit the website,
www.autismservicedogsofamerica.org. We appreciate your generosity and support in our fund raising efforts.
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