Jadalyn is a 12 year old girl who loves Barbies, Hello Kitty and Animals. She is Sweet, Loving, Creative, and Caring. Like all young girls, she loves spending time with her friends. She gets excited about going to places like the Circus, Amusement Parks, Disney World, Movie Theaters, and the Mall (she LOVES shopping).
Unfortunately, Jadalyn has extreme difficulty doing many of these things that other girls her age are doing. Jadalyn has PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified) which falls under an Autism Spectrum Disorder and she has Severe Anxiety. Due to these disorders, Jadalyn has a very difficult time with large crowds of people, social situations, sensory overload, large buildings, noisy places, as well as making and maintaining friends. She is prone to outbursts/tantrums, and in some situations gets dizzy, nauseous, and completely shuts down and is not able to verbalize what she is feeling. This is a short list of some of the issues she faces.
These feelings/issues are very real to Jadalyn and make it difficult for her to do many things that other kids her age are doing. Jadalyn is very high functioning and normally very verbal but she really only has one real friend whom she has known since she was in kindergarten. Jadalyn’s disorder makes it so hard for her to manage and maintain social relationships and negatively impacts her ability to go to the places that she really enjoys and is excited about. Now that she is older, other kids notice that she is “different” or has "issues" which makes it even more difficult for her since she fully understands everything that is going on around her and this is extremely difficult for her and heartbreaking for us as her parents to see her hurt or upset!
Jadalyn gets excited about going to the Circus, Disney, the Mall, and Amusement Parks or even the Zoo, but due to the amount of people, size of the buildings or parks, she gets to these places and gets easily overwhelmed by the amount of stimuli and she completely shuts down. Her anxiety gets so severe that she literally becomes unable to function and has to leave.
Recently we learned of service dogs which are trained to assist people with Autism. Dogs have been used for a number of years to assist with a variety of therapies and conditions. Autism and Anxiety are no different. A dog can be trained to detect when Jadalyn is anxious and will divert her attention and make contact with her or lay on her if needed to help calm her down. The dog can also assist her when she is out in crowded areas by creating a buffer space around Jadalyn (increasing her personal space in public) this would be extremely beneficial on a train, in an elevator or anywhere that individuals are forced to be in close proximity to each other.
Another important task that her service dog will be able to do is track Jadalyn when she elopes. Jadalyn has eloped from school on numerous occasions when she is overwhelmed and her service dog will stay with her to keep her safe and/or help us to find her. These are just a few of the things that Jadalyn’s service dog will be trained to do.
We have done some research and talked with other parents who have these service dogs for their children and they have told us that the dogs have changed their lives. Some parents have reported that their children have had far fewer outbursts if any, lower anxiety, and a noticeable improvement in their behaviors in crowded/public places.
It is Jadalyn's wish to be able to live each day without so much worry and fear related to her anxiety and to actively be able to participate in the things that she is interested in doing. It is our hope that her service dog will help to relieve some of the constant anxieties and fears that Jadalyn has, decrease the medications that she takes daily, and give her the confidence and ability to lead as normal a life as possible.
The service dogs are extremely expensive and are not covered by insurance so parents/families are left to raise the $15,000 to $25,000 it takes to purchase and train the service dog, child and parents. Parents/families have the choice to either pay for the dog and training out of pocket or to raise the funds needed to help offset the costs. Unfortunately, most people do not have this kind of money saved. We know that we don’t.
After extensive research, we have chosen Noelle's Dogs Four Hope out in Colorado to select and train the dog. With NDFH’s help we have selected a standard poodle named Jasper. Jasper will be in training for over a year but this will give our family the time needed to try and raise money to offset the costs associated with purchasing and training him, his medical expenses while he is in training, travel to Colorado for our family so that we can train with him before he can be released into our care, and annual recertification.
Jasper was selected carefully at 10 weeks old following a temperament test. He has already begun his training which will include basic training, obedience training, and then he will be specifically trained according to what Jadalyn’s needs are. We have a Facebook page designed for us to monitor Jasper’s development and training through pictures, videos, and information from the trainers. Jadalyn is able to communicate with the trainers and ask any questions during the process. Although Jasper is in Colorado, he has already become a part of our family and we are eager to see all the positive changes that he can make in Jadalyn’s life and our family's life!!!
Any assistance in raising money to help pay for Jasper will be greatly appreciated.