Many of you know at least parts of Emma's story, bits of the ups and downs and in-betweens. For those who may not, Emma has been living with the impacts of Bipolar I Disorder since infancy. She has received intensive, wrap around services from a very young age. While the combination of therapeutic, medical, educational, and Mindfulness interventions have been effective to varying degrees, her treatment team agrees that Arlo, a properly trained service dog, would bring Emma greater confidence and independence. Due to the significant costs associated with acquiring, training, and caring for such a highly skilled Service Dog we are reaching out to family, friends, and community to help reach our targeted fundraising goal of $8000.00 - a relatively small sum for such life-changing benefits.
Emma is a "typical" 13-year girl in so many ways- she loves music, theater, making slime, streaming her favorite shows on Netflix, swimming in the river, baking all sorts of confections, and telling stories to make people laugh. And there's no one who has more holiday cheer than this girl!
What is not so readily seen behind her dimpled smile, freckles, and mop of curly brown hair is the amount of effort it takes for Emma to get through the day, and the challenges she faces to do what comes so easily to her peers, her siblings, to you and me. From the internal energy she has to muster, to the extensive support provided by family, school personnel, and medical providers - getting through everyday tasks is an endurance event for Emma. As an infant Emma was far needier than a typical baby. By the time she was 2 years old it was clear that she was struggling just to get through the day, and by age 5 was in formal treatment for what was eventually diagnosed with Bipolar I, Generalized Anxiety, and significant Executive Functioning challenges.
Emma is currently in the 8th grade at the Josiah Barteltt Elementary School. Throughout the school day she receives continuous support from a dedicated Special Education team; however the academic and social demands of middle school continue to present challenges at every step. At home, Emma relies on support for the most basic of tasks, cannot be left home unsupervised save for very short windows, and ensuring her safety and wellbeing is a nonstop 24/7 effort. Like any teenager, however, the one thing Emma wants more than anything (at home, at school, etc.) is to be independent. To navigate the day without relying on adult support at every step. Together Emma and Arlo will go through rigorous training so Arlo become highly skilled at meeting her unique needs; performing numerous functions which collectively will decrease Emma's reliance on adult support, increase her independence, and improve symptoms attributed to her Bipolar illness.
Those who know Emma can attest to her lifelong connection with animals big and small; even on the hardest of days Emma's posture, energy, and mood relax in the presence of an animal. Due to the severity of her symptoms Emma has been hospitalized numerous times, takes a complex cocktail of medications on a daily basis, and has missed countless days of school and infinite opportunities to just be a 'kid'. Bipolar is a lifelong illness. She will always require both medical and therapeutic support to manage this very difficult mood disorder. However, after careful consideration Emma's medical and therapeutic team is in agreement that being paired with Arlo will improve not only her daily function but her overall prognosis. Emma has become an amazing advocate for herself and her needs- she is fully on board and only excited about getting a Service Dog. As her mom, I can't wait to see what is in store for my little girl and our family once we bring Arlo home!
We continue to be overwhelmed by the understanding, generosity, and support people have shown our family since embarking on this journey, and Thank you for helping my little girl take the next step towards living as independently, confidently, successfully, and happily as possible.
DonationsSee top donations
- Sue Lackman
- Erin and Arty Polo
- Dan & Deb Fiore
- The Bartolomeis
- Tara Guertin
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