Our son, Jonah was born different and he experiences life in ways most of us cannot understand. Jonah was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and a global developmental delay at only 18 months old.
Now, at four years old, we are still learning as a family how to help Jonah navigate the world. Despite being considered nonverbal (because he is unresponsive to most one step directions or unable to carry a verbal conversation), Jonah has the extraordinary superpower of hyperlexia. Since a very young age, Jonah has been obsessed with letters. His understanding of communication isn’t the same as a neurotypical person, but his love of language knows no bounds. Jonah fully taught himself to read (all while being considered nonverbal) and will read any and everything. He astounds us every day with his impressive reading skills.
Unfortunately, his autistic brain does not comprehend danger. He may stop in the middle of a road crossing to read a sign or a license plate and not understand the danger of incoming traffic. He has trouble understanding boundaries and exhibits elopement behavior, which is a fancy way of saying he likes to escape! A service dog would be a blessing for many reasons, but particularly having one who is trained as a companion for our son and has a tracking task skillset would alleviate so much of our anxiety as parents.
Jonah often is overwhelmed in public. The reality of neurodiversity is that the world was made for neurotypical people, and people like my son have to live in it. A service dog will have many trained tasks that can help to help Jonah adjust to outside stimuli. They can help with anxiety detection and applying pressure to help alleviate the nerves he experiences when the world is loud and confusing around him. A service dog can also help alert the public to the different needs our son has, and to help them give him grace as he learns to exist in a world that is often overwhelming to him.
On average it costs between $40,000-60,000 to raise, train, and place a service dog at 4 Paws for Ability. We have been tasked with raising $20,000 of that amount in order for Jonah to be placed with a service dog. It is our hope that a service dog will be another tool in our toolbox for helping Jonah be successful. As well as being a valued family member of our family and non judgmental companion for our son, we hope a service dog can help ease his transition into the world.
If you want to help support our son on his journey, we would be so appreciative!
Donations in support of Jonah should be made directly to 4 Paws for Ability – be sure to write Jonah’s name on the memo line (Jonah Gregory).
Mail checks to:
4 Paws for Ability
In Honor of Jonah Gregory
253 Dayton Ave.
Xenia, Ohio, 45385.
If you wish to make an online donation you may do so below.
Thank you so much for reading about our Jonah.