Monday, 4 May 2015

A Post Of Gratitude

This weekend my family has experienced a degree of support and love that we never expected.  I can't even begin to express how thankful we are, and how loved we feel.

For autism awareness month, one of the local service dog organizations ran a "contest" for a grant for an autism service dog.  The award is $10,000 toward the dog and it's training (note that the total cost is $18,000, so we will still have some work to do if we win).  I filled out the application and had Jack color the picture they asked for the applicants to color- this is torture for a kiddo who hates fine motor activities, but he did give it his all.  I sent everything in and hoped for the best.  All the sudden last week, Jack's picture, and several others appeared on the service dog website and it was announced that whoever got the most votes would win the grant.  I had no idea going into all of this that the decision would be based on "votes".

On Friday I started an event on facebook "Vote for Jack for a Service Dog Grant".  John and I invited all of our friends, and added it to a few groups, I reached out to a few fellow bloggers who shared our invite as well.  We hoped to get some votes.

We could NEVER have imagined what would come next.  As of right now, with all of the people family and friends have invited, there are over 4800 people invited to this event, and we have had over 1400 votes for Jack.  If you haven't voted yet and would like to, just follow the link below (you do have to be a member of facebook) and "like" the first picture, which is Jack's.  It is the black dog with the orange collar.  Voting is open until Friday and we can use all the help we can get as the competition is close!
As a family with two kids with autism, we sometimes feel isolated.  We feel like many of our struggles go unnoticed, or that people just can't understand what we are going through.  Even though these facts remain, I have to say, this outpouring of love and support for our family?  It means the WORLD to us.  Just everything.

We have not told Jack that the contest is occurring as we did not want to get his hopes up and have them dashed.  But....his birthday is tomorrow.  What a fabulous thing to possibly be able to share with him later this week!!

Here is a little more information about the purpose of autism service dogs:
  • To help prevent the child from wandering or running away.
  • To help with self-soothing during melt-downs. The tactile stimulation, whether by petting, hugging, or having the dog actually lie on the child, can help the child learn the skills of calming themselves.
  • Socialization (including serving as a "social bridge", so as children and adults come over and ask about the dog, the child with autism is prompted to answer. The parent should not answer questions, but should refer all inquiries to the child. Thus with the dog, rather than having just the parent or teacher try to bring the child out of their own world, the entire community is talking to the child.)
A long-term study of service dogs and children with autism reported:[3]
  • “Highly significant increase in pro-social behavior with a parallel decrease in self-absorption."
  • "Fewer autistic behaviors - examples include clicking noises, repetitive spinning or jumping or hand-posturing (stimming), and bolting or roaming."
  • "More socially-appropriate behaviors (such as reaching up for hugs, frequently imitating the therapist's actions, joining or initiating games).”
Autism Assistance dogs can be trained to help keep the child safe. With tracking the family is able to quickly find the child if they wander away and can't be seen. With tethering the family is able to enter the community with their child who has Autism safely. The parent is always in charge of the dog.

Thanks for helping our family, and most of all, our Jack!!!!