Maddux is a sweet, loving 9-year-old and big brother to two sisters. He is gentle and kind, even when his younger sisters can be challenging. He is very sensitive, even when most don’t realize it because he’s a quiet, stoic guy. Maddux has an easy-going personality and is very quick to deliver a funny comment into a conversation, even if it is unintentional. He loves cars of all sizes and frequently rotates playing between bins stored in his bedroom. He is a muscle car fanatic and I think when he gets old enough to drive it may be a Charger or Mustang he ends up wanting. Maddux loves school and is adored by teachers and staff alike. Every year at his school he is always selected as the student who wins the award for the best manners. He is currently in a self-contained classroom but attends general education classes throughout his school day.
Maddux was initially diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum at the age of 4. At the time, we pored over information to educate ourselves and our family as how to best help Maddux. We reached out to any resources we could find since this was new for all of us. He thankfully was accepted into an Autism program through our local school district and began attending class immediately. With his wonderful Educators’ assistance, Maddux is at, or above grade level in all subjects. He is working to matriculate into the general education classroom full-time. He was also diagnosed with ADHD when we had a formal diagnosis by a Pediatric Neuropsychologist. Our guy has a lot of obstacles to overcome, and we have been tackling them together one by one. However, one of his challenges which is common with Autism, Maddux struggles with social anxiety, noise levels, and understanding general social cues. This leads to occasional outbursts which can disrupt the classroom. Behavior disruption by his teachers or aides is essential for him to be able to not only focus, but to not distract others in the classroom and be able to be comfortable in the gen ed environment with his peers.
This leads us into why we even began researching service dogs in the first place. As his parents, we want nothing but the best for him, so are always looking for ways to help Maddux feel comfortable and confident. Between therapy, activities, and socialization we have seen such incredible improvements in his behavior. We have a family pet, a Labrador retriever named Thor, who Maddux just adores, and the feeling is definitely mutual. He is getting older (he’s 10 now) so we started looking for reputable breeders for an eventual replacement. On one breeder’s site they mentioned that their animals had been used as service dogs which got us thinking…is there something more out there that we haven’t even known about that could help our guy? Turns out, there is. There are, in fact, service dogs trained specifically to assist individuals on the autism spectrum! The service dogs are taught basic obedience, of course, but their ability extends far beyond that. They can assist with a variety of tasks that range anywhere from behavior disruption of harmful or distracting behaviors, to tethering for kids that have elopement behavior, to deep pressure for anxiety. Their “job” is to go everywhere with their person and provide constant support. At home, they provide comfort at bedtime and help soothe their person back to sleep when they wake up or are anxious.
While we wished we had known about this years ago, we are thankful to have stumbled on the information now. We did A LOT of research into A LOT of different organizations and found that 4 Paws was the one for us.
A little about the 4 Paws for Ability organization: About – 4 Paws for Ability
We have read through many of the testimonials from 4 Paws families and have watched the videos of these dogs and their humans in awe. The bond between the animals and their kids is nothing short of amazing. And the stories border on miraculous with the changes the parents have seen in their children once their service dog becomes a part of their lives. And we realized without a doubt that this would be something life changing for our Maddux. To have a built-in best friend, a companion who can help with behavior disruption, and maybe most of all a social lubricant to help ease his social anxiety and interact with his peers would be incredible. When we asked Maddux what he thought about it, his whole being lit up and he asked when his best friend would be here.
So now we are on to the fundraising part of Maddux’s journey to a service dog and companion. It is a lengthy process because once we have full funding it takes about 2 years to raise and train Maddux’s dog, specifically for him. So far, we have gone through the application process and have been approved to start. At 4 Paws for Ability, it costs $40,000-$60,000 on average to breed, raise, train, and place a service dog. Our contribution through our agreement is to raise $17,000 of these funds. Please know there is no amount too small if you can contribute to our boy’s cause. And we are so very thankful to any and all help that can be offered and any shares of our guy’s story are appreciated too!
All contributions go to 4 Paws for Ability directly so please mention Maddux’s name, so it goes toward his contributions to get a service dog. Our goal is to reach $17,000 and if we exceed the target amount the contribution will go to other families to make their dreams come true.
If you are sending a check, please make the donations directly to 4 Paws for Ability – be sure to write Maddux’s name on the memo line so the amount is credited to his account.
4 Paws for Ability
253 Dayton Ave.
Xenia, Ohio 45385