On April 14th, 2011 my 2 ½ year old son, Thor, was diagnosed with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Extreme Anxiety; he leads a life apart from others his age.
Thor's brain has difficulty processing the sensory information that he perceives; many times sights, sounds, smells, and touch can overwhelm him and even be painful. This usually leads to outbursts and a desire to flee the situation. Every moment of every day Thor fights against his natural tendencies to be afraid, anxious, or overwhelmed. He is only semi-verbal and does not respond to strangers or to his name being called if he were to wander or hide. He's run away in stores more times than I can count - hiding on shelves and behind counters, leaving me afraid and searching.
There are many issues that arise from Thor’s disabilities that make living each day difficult for Thor and myself (a single parent). He must have his hand held constantly or be on a toddler “leash,” because his severe anxiety causes him to run away and hide when out in public. He also self injures - hitting, slapping, pinching or punching himself and even banging his head on hard surfaces.
4 Paws for Ability.Thor has been accepted into the Autism Service Dog program; but I must first complete the fundraising requirement for the non-profit agency that trains these dogs - 4 Paws for Ability eliminates a long waiting list by allowing their clients’ family, friends, and community to raise $13,000 (USD) to help cover some of the cost of extensive training service dogs require. I've reached 4% of my goal so far.
A service dog would allow Thor the ability to have more freedom when we are in public by having him tethered to the dog and being able to walk along side the dog, rather than being carried or strapped in a stroller. A service dog would also be able to track and retrieve Thor if he were to get away from me, comfort him when he is upset or having a meltdown, and keep him from dangerous activities and bad behaviors. It would give me another set of eyes to keep Thor safe.
4 Paws for Ability takes a child with Autism and all the difficulties they have with verbalization, communication, and social relationships and pairs them with a well trained service dog specifically trained to meet their unique needs; to create a consistency in the child's life as their dogs go every where that they go, even within places of public accommodation, and the educational system bringing along with them: consistency, stability, and calm reassurance that the feelings of anxiety or fear are not needed because their trusted buddy is by their side.
The 4 Paws for Ability website states, “We have discovered a magic that exists between children and dogs, a magic that can become a life-saving miracle for a child paired with one of our Autism Assistance Dogs.” You can help bring some magic to Thor’s life by making a tax deductible donation to 4 Paws for Ability in Thor’s name. Every donation helps and no donation amount is too small!