Service Dog for Loving Autistic Girl

Summary Version:

Klaire is a 21-year-old autistic girl who loves animals, babies, corny jokes, and superheroes. Her heart is so big that she wants to fix the world at the cost of her own self. Sadly, she has been subjected to bullying and exclusion and suffers from severe anxiety and depression.

Klaire has so much potential. She wants to be an art therapist so that she can help others who have suffered as she has. She has a future but is having difficulty seeing past her current life of pain.

Please help us raise funds for Merlin’s KIDS to help Klaire to be matched with a service dog. Her future canine buddy will not only help her with calming the flair-ups of her anxiety attacks but will quell the loneliness and sense of unworthiness that she feels. Service dogs can detect cortisol (which indicates stress) and can provide calm through interventions such as deep pressure.

Klaire has been accepted for a service dog, and now we join Merlin’s KIDS, a 501c3 nonprofit, to raise funds. They can only train dogs as funding is made available, so we ask for your help!

Klaire has an inner flame that can light up the world. She, as an autistic child, can learn to live in a non-autistic world with the help of a service dog. All donations are tax-deductible. Whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated!

Excerpt from Professional Press Release:

Summary: A 2019 CDC report has suggested that autistic spectrum disorder is more prevalent than the latest estimates indicate. Meanwhile, Klaire reveals what it’s like to grow up with autism. 

There’s been plenty in the news about the increasing prevalence of autism in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observed a 15% increase in the pervasiveness of autism across the US in just two years, as the condition jumped from a rate of 1 in 68 children to 1 in 59. Not only that, but a further CDC study in 2019 strongly suggests that autistic spectrum disorder “is more prevalent than indicated by the latest 1 in 59 CDC estimate.”

These headline figures help people to understand the increasing incidence of autism but do little to explain how hard it can be for autistic children to thrive in a non-autistic world. Indeed, for many ‘thriving’ is out of the question – it’s more a matter of survival. 

21-year-old Klaire is the perfect example. She is a bright, loving young person who wants to become an art therapist so that she can help people that are like herself. Like many young people her age, she loves animals, babies, corny jokes, and spending time with her family and friends. Yet, Klaire has been plunged into severe anxiety and depression as a result of life-long experiences of exclusion and bullying from peers that only see her retarded, weird, or strange – not an individual with a neurological condition. 

Klaire comments: “I’m at the higher end of the spectrum, so a lot of people look at me like, ‘You don’t have autism, do you?’ Like, I should have an autism face! I got pointed out by some of the other kids; I didn’t have many friends. I got picked on almost all the time. I would tell the teachers about the bullying but they did nothing. I’ve had a difficult time with some of the adults in school too. It’s been really tough.” 

Such instances of young people suffering are far from rare. Despite her condition, Klaire has so much to give to the world. She is a talented creative writer whose work has been published in her high school annual magazine. Her artwork has been shown at the Guild of Creative Art in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, where she is a member. She makes jewelry and loves photography. Additionally, she has a gift for flower arranging and will be attending a vocational high school to become a florist while she continues her education to become an art therapist. 

Klaire is passionate about helping others and is always moved to help people or animals that are in distress. She’s now in her 10th year as a Girl Scout and has been one of the top ten cookie sellers for the past five years. One year, she even sold enough cookies to pay for her entire summer camp tuition. 

In many ways, Klaire has been a typical teenager and still is, cognitively. Her room is a mess. She finds loopholes in instructions in order to get her own way. Her mother is always finding empty cartons in the refrigerator. 

But life isn’t easy for Klaire. Things that many people take for granted can leave her feeling overwhelmed and frightened. Unexpected physical contact. Crowds. Ceiling fans. She feels frustrated when someone interrupts her when she is speaking. She can’t follow multistep instructions and has erratic memory retrieval. She needs supervision in all unstructured environments. 

A supportive group of friends could do much to help Klaire to process her experiences of the world. Instead, she has been called names, tripped up, and had leaves and dirt thrown at her during recess. Entire groups of young people move away from her when she sits at a table or on the bleachers. She has been booed in the gym and, one year, her entire class made disgruntled noises when the teacher started to sing her the happy birthday song. Feeling worthy, important, and valuable after an entire childhood of such treatment is all but impossible. 

As Klaire points out: “Being treated that way made me feel kind of lonely. Isolated. I felt like I wasn’t even worth it. Because of that, I just sat at the peanut-free table where nobody would sit, at all.  Eventually, it got to a point where I would just eat in classrooms with a teacher.”

Thankfully, one 501(c)3 non-profit organization – Merlin’s Kids – wants to help Klaire. The company pairs young people with autism with service animals. In Klaire’s case, a service dog would help to calm her anxiety and quell the sense of unworthiness and loneliness that a lifetime of negative treatment has given rise to. 

Klaire has high-functioning autism (one of the various sub-categories on the autism spectrum) and is capable of living independently, with help. Having her own service dog would play a key role in enabling this. Research has shown that spending one-on-one time with a dog can significantly reduce loneliness and stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which contribute to wellbeing and happiness. 

Perhaps most interestingly, service dogs can detect an increase in cortisol in humans, which allows them to know when their human is becoming stressed. They can then provide calming interventions, such as deep pressure. For young people like Klaire, a canine companion can make an incredible difference. 

Klaire comments: “It’s not that I just I want a service dog – I need him. When you face challenges in life, you need to have someone to be around. When you don’t have that, you don’t have anything.  That’s why a service dog is so important.”

Their goal is to give Klaire as much of a chance to thrive as a non-autistic young person enjoys, giving her the chance that she needs to thrive in a non-autistic world. 

To find out more and help Klaire succeed, please contact merlinskids(dot)[email redacted](dot)com, quoting "Klaire C" .   Their website is  https://merlinskids.org/.   All donations are tax-deductible.
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Organizer

Maria La Freniere 
Organizer
Eatontown, NJ
Merlin's KIDS, Inc. 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

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