Ace entered the world 3 days after his expected arrival date, weighing in at 6lbs 5oz. Ace was hitting all major milestones earlier than expected. He walked at 10 1/2 months; knew his letters and the sounds they made by 16 months, before he could really form full sentences. He read fluently before he turned 3 years old and his math skills were beyond anything we ever imagined possible. So as parents with a 3 year old who knew multiplication facts up to 20 we kept telling ourselves Ace was just quirky. Deep down we knew from the time Ace was a baby he had more challenges than others. He cried constantly and only found comfort in the arms of his mother 24 hours a day. He never slept and seemed to be painfully affected by the sun. Along with those extreme math skills became obsessions with numbers and knowing everything he could about them.
The older Ace got the more rigid he became. His mom recalls a time when he had just turned 3 and they went to take a trip to their local grocery store. The door labeled “enter” was broken on that particular day and blocked off by barricades. Not thinking anything of it Ace’s mom walks through the door that said “exit” and the inconsolable meltdown followed. Ace was unable to continue grocery shopping so they left. Ace’s mom has numerous stories like this one; sitting at certain tables in restaurants, not being able to “pretend” things or people are different objects for fun, the list goes on.
The need for structure and order is still there for Ace. People don’t outgrow their autism struggles. Ace has recently had to start homeschool after attending middle school for one semester. The lack of structure and emotional support Ace requires was more than he could handle on his own.
Having a service dog means someone to be there for Ace. Someone to provide pressure when Ace feels overwhelmed with anxiety. It means someone’s there to intervene and block Ace from certain behaviors that may be harmful to himself or others. A service dog can help Ace recognize when he needs to take a break before he reaches the point of “problem” behaviors, which in turn will help him reincorporate back into mainstream school. Which is important because having a companion with him will open doors for Ace and give him a sense of independence and confidence. Ace loves animals and is thrilled with the thought of having one that can go everywhere with him.