"Our son, Lorenzo gets easily overwhelmed; specifically in public settings. As a result, he is unable to enjoy many simple activities. Lorenzo requires assistance and supervision 100% of the time due to his inability to communicate his thoughts and emotions, his propensity to wander off and his incapability to focus on tasks for prolonged periods of time. It has been our observation that he takes kindly to animals and would benefit greatly from having an autism service dog to help disrupt meltdowns and encourage his ability to self-soothe when heexperiences such levels of distress in social settings."
As many people living with children with ASD know, meltdowns are much more extreme than mere tantrums and often lead to the children lashing out. A meltdown is best defined as a total loss of behavioral control, and a child in the middle of a melt-down desperately needs help to regain control. Meltdowns arise, in part, from an inability for a child to soothe themselves. Although there may be times when the child cannot be soothed by a parent, teacher, or a caretaker; a service dog can often help prevent a tantrum from escalating to a meltdown.
A professionally trained Service Dog would allow Lorenzo to be more independent, as well as keep him safe. When Lorenzo starts crying, his parent can tell the dog to place its head in the child's lap (a task the dog has been specifically trained to do for the child) or even cuddle near him in a specific, trained position. With encouragement from his caretakers, Lorenzo can stroke the dog's fur and let himself be calmed by the furry warmth and pressure of the dog.
For children with ASD, it is common that the dog's heaviness can bring down a child's emotions, heartbeat, and blood pressure. In this way, the tantrum is not only soothed, but the child can learn to calm themselves through their Service Dog, even without a parent's help.
"A Service Dog would benefit Lorenzo by calming him and (hopefully) preventing meltdowns, specifically in public settings. By providing an animal for such a close bond, the dog can assist us in keeping Lorenzo close to the dog (and close to us) at all times and be a friend and companion that loves and accepts him unconditionally. We are all as a family prepared to take on whatever responsibilities come with providing Lorenzo with a better quality of life and we already base our life decisions on what would be best suited for him and his needs. Lorenzo is the sweetest boy and we love him dearly for making us parents. We want him to enjoy the little things that all children should have the opportunity to experience and we believe that a service dog would have a substantial positive impact in his life."
As a law enforcement officer, Lorenzo's father can attest to the benefits of having service dogs, not only as K9 dogs, but also therapy dogs which his division uses to assist those who have been involved in critical and traumatic incidents. We know that a Service Dog will provide Lorenzo with the comfort necessary to enhance his life, help him manage his behavior, and bring joy into his world.
Help One Step to Freedom continue to provider access to professionally train service dogs for children like Lorenzo today. Every donation counts, and is used for the service dog program serving individuals like Lorenzo and his family.
For more information on OSF, visit www.onesteptofreedom.org