Griffin is our very loving and sweet 8 year old little man. He is obsessed with robots and building whatever creation comes to his mind.
Griffin scared his dad and me when he decided to enter this world nearly 2 months before his scheduled due date. Thankfully, besides his little body being covered in white blond fuzz (we called him our little blond gorilla) he was perfectly healthy and able to come home from the hospital after only a few days.
By the time Griffin turned 3 years old we and his pediatrician became concern because he was not attempting to make any noises other than crying when he was hungry or discomforted. Rarely would Griffin acknowledge or attempt to play with other children. After a long journey filled with doctors, therapist and tests Griffin was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder a little after he turned 4 years old.
Griffin has been blessed by having access to wonderful doctors, therapist and teachers. Though difficult he can now communicate, interact with peers and has excelled academically! With his dad’s help he has even been able to join a football team.
However, this year Griffin’s behavior started to regress in many ways:
Break downs he cannot recover from resulting in our having to go to his school and help calm him down from. This makes it nearly impossible for Griffin to handle public outings (the grocery store, mall, park, etc.).
Sensory issues worsened to the point where he can barely stand the feeling of any clothing against his skin.
Oral fixation has worsened to the point we worry for his safety due to him constantly putting objects in his mouth.
His dad and I were at an absolute loss and could not understand what was happening to our son.
Then, the most heart breaking change happened and Griffin started saying horrible things about himself:
- “I’m just dumb.”
- “I’m an idiot.”
- “Why can’t I be like everyone else?!”
- “I can’t! I can’t!”
One of the worst nights was when we had to hold Griffin while he cried himself to sleep saying, “I don’t fit! I don’t fit any where!” These are heartbreaking things no parent ever wants to hear their child say!
Griffin has gotten to the age where he realizes his differences from his peers. Children with ASD often feel isolated and unaccepted. Even though his dad, his sister and I always tell Griffin “God made Griffin exactly how He wanted you to be and God makes NO mistakes!” Griffin still looks around at the children his age and doesn’t feel he belongs.
After much research, talking with doctors and other ASD families we have been lead to the therapy option of a Service Dog. We have heard many family testimonials who’s children's lives have been changed forever in many ways by having a Service Dog:
- The acceptance and companionship provided by a Service Dog enables the child to have an emotional stability they could not maintain before.
- The Service Dog can be trained to help keep children with oral fixations safe from the danger of choking or ingesting poisons/dangerous objects.
- Through pressure therapy and other methods the Service Dog can help the child calm down when having a break down or possibly stop the break down from occurring.
- With the help of a Service Dog these children can have an independence and freedom they could never dream of before!
We have been fortunate to find a wonderful breeding and training program in a town by the name of Griffin (how fortuitous is that?)! The wonderful people who run Appleridge German Shepherds truly have a heart for how life changing a Service Dog can be to an individual’s life. Griffin has already been to the training facility and met one of their dogs named Legacy to see how he would interact. It was almost love at first sight!
Griffin is normally very cautious of animals but his interaction with Legacy was completely different:
- He walked right up to her and let her smell and lick him.
- He did not pull at his clothes or start scratching himself (a sign of anxiety and distress).
- He did not try to put anything in his mouth.
- He was surprisingly calm and relaxed.
He sat on the floor with Legacy for over 30 minutes while we talked. Griffin would pet her, talk with her and when he started to look around she would gently get his attention again by moving her head towards him or lightly licking him.
Now Griffin will move on to the next stage where he will learn how to use hand signals to command Legacy. This is perfect because of his speech and communication difficulties.
After this step Griffin and Legacy will work on bonding while Legacy gets use to a new home.
Finally, Griffin and Legacy will complete her urban training. At the completion of this Legacy will have earned her service vest and will be able to accompany Griffin anywhere in public! This will be such a blessing and an amazing help for Griffin!
The cost of Griffin’s Service Dog will be approximately $6000. We are trying to raise a minimum of $6500 to cover the cost of his dog and the small percentage that GoFundMe requires. Anything over our goal will go into an account which will ONLY be used for the long term health and well being of Legacy (veterinary visits, medication, food, etc.).
We will be updating this page with pictures and information as Griffin’s journey continues!
We encourage anyone to contact us with questions they may have.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for considering your support of Griffin and Legacy!
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- Ed and Coral Rutowski
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