Having a functional day means Nico has many obstacles to overcome. His language delays make communication extremely frustrating. Not being able to communicate what he needs, as well as not being able to understand our requests, directions and demands regularly results in meltdowns that involve screaming, hitting and kicking. Nico also fixates intensely on objects, most of which are completely random. He has wandered to satisfy these fixations, including, but not limited to, leaving the house for a neighbor's yard, scaling shelves in the garage, and climbing tables and shelves in the house. In addition to these struggles, Nico's environment overwhelms him on a regular basis, pushing him into sensory overload. This causes him to engage in repetitive behaviors that are sometimes destructive to toys, property and our home. Loud noises calm him down, which results in him throwing objects into walls, rocking aggressively into furniture, and banging toys and other objects off of tables and walls to hear how they sound. Our day-to-day functioning revolves a great deal on trying to intercept and weather these challenging behaviors, while never giving up on our search to find ways to help him cope in his overwhelming universe.
Last year, shortly after Nico's diagnosis, I stumbled across K-9's for Kids, an organization that helps pair service dogs with children diagnosed with ASD. After doing our research and speaking to the owner a number of times, we were finally notified that a new litter of German Shepherd puppies was born and ready to be trained and paired with children and families looking for a service dog. We took a trip to the park out of which the organization works and met the owner, Steve. We also had the opportunity to meet other families who have begun the training process, which takes a full year to complete. The impact the dogs have had on these children and their families is tremendous. The dogs are trained to track Autistic children who wander, interrupt sensory overloading, and stop destructive behavior, among other things. The dogs never leave the sides of the children with whom they are paired. They know to lay their bodies on children who are overloaded or hyper in order to calm them down, put their mouth on a hand poised to throw an object, bark when a child with Autism wanders, and even intercept and redirect repetitive, "stimming" behaviors. Nico came with us to meet Steve and see the training process, and he fell in love with the dogs there. He even told me, "I get a black one. I get Jake."
After more discussion, we are ready to move forward with the process of getting Nico a service dog, but we need your help. The process is long and costly, and your support will allow us to participate fully in the training program over the next year and bring home a service dog for Nico. These dogs are not covered by insurance, so we are relying on support from others to help us make this happen for our son. We plan on documenting the whole process on a Facebook page dedicated to Nico's journey so that you can follow along. Please consider supporting us as we help Nico get Jake-his very own service dog!
- Bernadette Kazar
- Andrea Cedro
- Lori Zambie
- Katie Milo
- Cheri Collins
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more