He was diagnosed with autism in August of 2013.
He has since undergone occupational therapy and speech therapy.
They have helped him tremendously with his autism.. but there's another part of Steven that therapy just doesn't cover.
Steven has a sensory processing disorder in conjunction with his autism.
He doesn't feel pain like you or I.
When he was 3, he decided he wanted to take a bath and when my husband went looking for him, he was in a bathtub with the water on pure heat and it was up to his knees, and he didn't feel the burning.
He was okay, only minor redness, but this was one of the first indicators that let us know he had a problem.
Because Steven doesn't feel pain like us, he has no fear of simple dangers.
He doesn't realize "don't touch the stove, it will burn you" or "don't run across the street, you could be hit by a car".
These are not concepts he understands.
Steven is what the autism community calls a "runner/wanderer". On Easter Sunday, Steven got away from us at our home and because he is so fast, he out ran us.
He not only got to the busy highway that we live on, but he crossed it because he wanted to play in the muddy water in the field across this street.
Not only was the water deep, but it was nearly 40 degrees.
We were right on his heels, but he was just far enough ahead....
At the hospital where I work, Steven has his speech and occupational therapy and he ran from his therapist and out of the unit.
Luckily we were able to find him quickly.
We almost had to lock the hospital down to make sure he didn't leave.
When we are in public, he will "wander" or if I let my guard down for even one second, he will run away from myself or my husband.
And sometimes both.
He was in Wal-Mart with his Nana & Pop, and when Nana reached up to swipe her debit card to check out, Steven seized the opportunity to run.
He made it to the parking lot before his Pop caught him.
Steven thought it was funny... he had no idea, no concept of what could have happened to him.
We have found an organization called Ry-Con Briard Service Dogs (www.ry-con.com).
They tailor train service dogs just for autistic children.
This animal will be able to be an extra set of "eyes" for us.
It will alert to possible dangers.
For example: if Steven is getting too close to the stove, it will "alert" to not only back him up, but get our attention as well.
They are also trained to "herd" the child.
For example: if Steven starts to run for the highway, the dog will get between him and the road and start pushing him back towards us, or become a barrier so that he simply can't get to the road.
This dog would accompany Steven everywhere he goes.
Steven would grow to see the dog not only has a loving pet, but as his "safe place".
He will learn that he is safe with the dog, and the dog is trained to stay with us.
These wonderful animals have proven to reduce wandering/running by nearly 90%!
For us, this is a huge number.
We have met with the organization and Steven was introduced to the Briard dogs.
He was scared at first, but he quickly warmed up to them and of course they to him.
They seem to be a good match.
Aside from the running/wandering, it would also help Steven with his socialization and communication.
Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
We want to do all we can for our wonderful boy.
Please feel free to check out this fantastic organization.
Other organizations I have looked at charge $20,000 - $30,000!
Ry-Con only charges a maximum of $12,000.
The organization was actually started because the owner has an autistic son and trained their first dog for him.
He became so good at it, that the state of NC licensed him as a professional service dog trainer with a specialty in autism.
Thank you so much!!
The Amberson Family
Lee, Melinda, Steven & Samantha
- Melinda Amberson
- Rodney Collier
- Derek & Louise Dover
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