If you haven’t met her yet, we’d like to introduce to you our daughter, Olivia Lewis.
Olive was born with a very rare chromosome disorder called 2q37.2 Deletion Syndrome. Sure, it has a fancy name, but what it really means is that a portion of one of her chromosomes (the instructions by which our bodies are constructed) never completely developed in utero.
When she was diagnosed at five-years old (she’s now 11), there were only one hundred known cases world wide; now the number is closer to 200. She has seen genetic experts in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, where they confirmed her diagnosis six years ago.
This deletion manifests itself very differently in these ‘2q’ children - in Olive’s case, that includes autism, anxiety disorder, oppositional disorder, impulsivity control issues (including sometimes fleeing from safety), sleep apnea, and, because of her low muscle tone, extreme foot pronation, which requires special footwear. It should be noted that this disorder has not affected her sense of humor, her proclivity for witty rejoinders, nor most of the issues experienced by your typical preteen kid.
Now that Olive is getting older, though, the disorder’s manifestations are becoming even more pronounced. Because of that, for Olive to continue in a standard school classroom, and for her to advance through her teenage years with enough support and comfort, we have concluded she needs a Service Dog.
This animal would be trained to do the following: calm Olive during her anxiety attacks, offer her comfort when she is feeling aggressive towards others, alert us if she tries to runaway from us, help her sleep better, and keep her focused at school, among other things. Though the animal also would provide emotional support, Olive requires a full Service Dog, not just an Emotional Support Dog.
Up until this year, Olive has had a one-on-one school Parapro. They have removed this service from her, and now we fear that she will become lost at school, with fewer adults there to redirect her and help her through a day. This animal could help with that tremendously. In fact, we hope that with the Service Dog’s help, Olive may be able to lessen the medication load she currently takes to help control her various emotional issues.
But Service Dogs are very expensive to purchase and train.
Thus, this campaign is to raise money for Olive to have a Service dog. We have found a dog and I also a proper trainer. Now all we need is to find the funds.
Typically, these types of dogs cost between $40,000-$50,000. We have found a trainer with a much different, more practical, less expensive approach. The dog would grow up in our home and Olive would learn to be the dog’s handler. This will involve two trips a week to Grand Rapids for approximately one year.
We are asking today that if you have some room in your own budget, please donate what you can to Olive’s Service Dog Fund.
Though we are uncomfortable asking for help, we realize that we simply cannot do this without your help! We expect this to be life-changing for her, as we have witnessed what it has done for others with similar needs.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
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