Hello and thank you for reading my daughter’s story. Please let me introduce you to Thalia. She is an incredibly sweet 5-year-old little girl who loves mermaids, dinosaurs, the Power Puff Girls, and making cupcakes. Because she is also very smart, she is sometimes very mischievous and has a very funny sense of humor.
In addition to having been diagnosed with a level II Autism Spectral Disorder just before her third birthday, Thalia has a lot of challenges because of her unique family situation. Thalia’s father and I have been married for over 10 ten years and serve together in the United States Army Reserves. My husband and I are also full-time professional students (law and engineering) so we are busy and away from home quite often trying to complete educations that we hope will allow us to become better providers for our children. Thalia also has an older brother, Carlos, with Down Syndrome, that is her best friend but also needs a lot of help. This would be a lot for a kid without a disability, but having ASD makes this even more difficult for her at times.
Thalia finally started receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy last year and went from being almost non-verbal to being able to speak in simple, short, sentences. Her meltdowns and instances of acting out have greatly improved and she has started to be able to do some activities of daily living on her own. However, some problems like social barriers, emotional regulation, and elopement have remained serious challenges for her. Based on these determinations I spoke to doctors and other families with similar problems and decided to pursue getting a service dog for her. I applied to 4 Paws for Ability and completed the application process which included medical documentation and other approvals. Thalia was approved for a dog that will help disrupt negative behaviors, encourages tethering to prevent elopement, and will be able to track Thalia in the event that she is ever missing. Elopement is a major safety concern for Thalia and because of this she wears a special GPS tracking device at all times in addition to having a special security and locking system installed at home. She also cannot participate in a lot of activities that other kids do, like going to the park, due to the risk of her running into traffic while trying to elude caregivers. Her trips away from our home have to be carefully planned and supported to prevent risk to her safety. Having a service dog would help to make trips to the park, pool, and playground a regular occurrence rather than a special treat.
Training a service dog to meet the requirements can be very costly. On average it costs between $40,000-60,000 to raise, train, and place a service dog at 4 Paws for Ability. I am tasked with raising $20,000 of that amount and am hoping that we can receive assistance to make Thalia’s service dog a reality. A service dog can make a positive impact on the rest of Thalia’s life that NO amount of therapy, medication or alternative therapy is able to do and help her have a much more normal childhood.
You can help Thalia by contributing to her fee for service. Donations in support of Thalia should be made directly to 4 Paws for Ability – be sure to write Thalia’s name on the memo line. Mail checks to:
4 Paws for Ability
In Honor of Gavyn Cook
253 Dayton Ave.
Xenia, Ohio, 45385.
If you wish to make an online donation, you may do so below.