Luca is a bright and beautiful eight-year-old boy. He is very friendly, open, and loves to be of help. He delights being in the outdoors and using his limited verbal communication skills to play with other children in the community. He loves to look at his books in his room. He loves nature and is more comfortable outdoors than anywhere else.
The Autism Spectrum Diagnosis Luca was diagnosed with Mild to Moderate Autism in 2012. Mom, Kathleen, explains: “This has caused a total change to our family and we are educating our family members to the best of our ability. Luca struggles to cope with the world around him and the turmoil inside. His motor planning disorder means that he is often unable to verbally express the thoughts in his head.” Luca is enrolled in speech and occupational therapy, which are helping, but he really struggles with some sensations he encounters from the minute he awakens. Everything from wearing appropriate clothing and brushing his teeth, to the sounds of his home and family around him, even the appearance and order of objects in his environment create impediments to his ability to function. He can be easily overwhelmed and upset. When that occurs, Luca frequently runs away without regard to his safety. He has run into traffic, water, and other hazards.
How an Autism Assistance Dog Will Help Having an assistance dog to partner with Luca would be life-changing–providing independence, security, and comfort. A service dog will help keep Luca safe by using a tether when hand-holding is overwhelming for him. The dog will be trained to alert to his parents when Luca bolts and runs away and will be trained to track him. His dog will be taught behavior disruption techniques, which could provide calming sensory input, interrupt or redirect inappropriate behavior, provide familiarity in unfamiliar circumstances, and be a friend that can walk with him through the anxious circumstances of his life. His dog would assist Luca in attending more family functions and activities rather than having him isolate himself.
4 Paws for Ability “Our family chose 4 Paws for Ability because it started the Autism Assistance Dog with search and rescue ability and is the largest organization providing Autism Assistance Dogs to children with no minimum age and no geographic restriction. It costs 4 Paws more than $40,000 to raise and properly train a service dog with our son’s specific needs in mind,” Kathleen noted. His family is committed to raise $17,000 in support of the 4 Paws mission. The money will go directly to 4 Paws for the purpose of helping them care for and train his life-saving dog. 4 Paws can be seen in action in Episode 1 of “Dogs” on Netflix.