First of all, let me thank you on behalf of my family for taking the time to read our story and helping to make it possible for Jared and Nathan to get the Autism service dogs we are all so eagerly waiting for!
Jared and Nathan are brothers that have a 5-year age difference between them, but share a common diagnosis of Autism. Although more and more people have heard about Autism, I am finding that not too many people actually understand what it is. You can’t tell someone has it just by looking at them, and if the time you spend around them is limited, you may not even know they have it. This is why it is called an invisible disability. Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers trains dogs that help those with invisible disabilities to live more independently and have a better quality of life.
We knew that Jared had a PDD-NOS around the age of 4, but it wasn’t until he was 10 that he was given the official diagnosis of Autism. Nathan was given several different diagnoses before he was conclusively diagnosed with Autism at age 11. Both boys are now 17 and 12.
To put it simply, Autism affects every aspect of our family. Both Jared and Nathan have sensory processing issues. Each boy has his own set of triggers that causes overstimulation that ends with a meltdown. Meltdowns happen very frequently for Jared and they are intense and almost always includes self-injuring behavior. They are quite an ordeal and can last anywhere from a few minutes to almost an hour. It is not unusual for him to have multiple meltdowns daily, which is devastating to him as well as the rest of our family. Nathan gets overwhelmed extremely easy and has multiple meltdowns throughout the day- everyday. His meltdowns include getting stiff as a board while screaming and hyperventilating, then crying and dropping to the floor. Some of the things that cause these meltdowns include certain foods, loud sounds, bright lights, particular textures, the feeling of using a tooth brush, the sound of the shower, how clothing may feel, being touched, having to switch tasks, and an unexpected change in schedule.
It is very hard to go on with your day when the meltdowns get really bad. It is often difficult to get things done when it takes so long to deal with and recover from each one. Autism service dogs help to keep their person calm in general because they are always by their side, but the amazing part is that they can tell when their person is getting overwhelmed and can distract them and redirect the focus. They can even get on their person to give them deep pressure therapy which produces a calming effect. I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like for my children to be able to go through the day with less and maybe even no meltdowns! We would be able to go out and do more things if I am not having to constantly having to worry about keeping their environment as trigger free as possible.
Autism effects both Jared and Nathan socially as well. Jared is verbal and will talk to anyone that talks with him, but he struggles with social reciprocity and hasn’t been able to make friendships. He doesn’t understand unspoken cues, and is often unaware of the tone and volume of his voice. He also has trouble understanding tactfulness. He can tolerate being around people for short amounts of time but prefers to be alone. Having an Autism service dog will help Jared by allowing him to make an emotional connection as it is easier to do with animals rather than people for most autistics. The goal is that he will be able to learn how to do the same with people. Nathan is verbal, but not as much as Jared. He often doesn’t even respond when spoken too. With all of the therapy he has gotten, Nathan is making some improvements in this area, but he still struggles with any interaction with others. He wants to have friends, but when he is around other kids, he simply shuts down and stays to himself.
Having an Autism service dog will make a huge difference in Nathans life because the dog will go everywhere he goes and will be the one constant. This will help him when he has to transition from task to task (which often causes a meltdown) much more easily. Having a dog with him will also help him have the opportunity to talk to other people and (especially children) about his new best friend, and get him more confident talking and interacting with people.
Having an Autism service dog will benefit Jared by being his companion, helping him to stay safe when he is not aware of his surroundings, helping to keep him from having meltdowns, helping him to complete tasks that he struggles with due to memory problems, and help him to sleep better through the night.
Thank you again for taking the time to read a little bit about our story. Your generosity is SO greatly appreciated! Every dollar counts and will help us get closer to being able to bring home Jared and Nathan’s new best friends!!
About The SDWR Cause:
Until There’s A Cure...There’s A Dog is the SDWR motto. With hundred of lives changed and over decade of dedicated work, SDWR is a leader service dog organization. We believe that through our uniquely trained service dogs, the lives of those with invisible disabilities can be improved. At SDWR, our service dogs include Diabetic Alert Dogs, Autism Service Dogs, Seizure Response Dogs, and PTSD Service Dogs. Each type of service dog is hand raised by SDWR staff and volunteers to mold it into a life-saving tool for each of our families in need. We promote a high level of interaction between the dog, the recipient family and our training staff to create an environment of success. Unlike other service dog programs, SDWR takes the next step in providing a solid base between a service dog and the recipient.
Your donation goes to the placement and growth of more life-saving service dogs.
SDWR is a fully incorporated 501(c)3 non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible Our program gives those with an invisible illness a chance at their own service dog. As a non-profit, we offset the costs of investing in an assistant dog. We believe no one should have to pay for a service dog. Through fundraising opportunities and our donors, we work to make service dogs for the disabled a reality. Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers helps families find local resources to help offset the costs associated with the training of a service dog. All donations go to the placement of service dogs and the needs of our mission.