Samantha was born only one week early but she was a tiny baby at just 4lbs 10.5oz. She spent one week in the NICU and then got to come home. Even tho she was tiny, she was hitting all of her milestones for quite some time. At one point though Samantha began to regress. She stopped babbling and it was hard to get her to stay focused. She began to have strange behaviors like barking and crawling around people when they would come to our home and playing with her feet as if they were baby dolls.
We went to the pediatrician to discuss our concerns and for the first time we heard the news that Samantha might have autism.
I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t sit under tables rocking back and forth and that was all I had ever heard about autism. We got on a waiting list for the Marcus Autism Center and they confirmed that Samantha did have autism. Due to changes in insurance we ended up going to two other places which also diagnosed Samantha with autism.
The journey since this diagnosis has been full of both joy and sadness. We have amazing times and we have difficult times. It has been hard work especially for Samantha as she tackled physical therapy and continues to work hard at speech therapy and occupational therapy. What is most difficult though is watching how Samantha struggles with anxiety.
This year her anxiety at school has caused her to pull out all of her eyelashes and most of the hair in her eyebrows. She has bitten her arm so hard while grocery shopping that she has drawn blood and not because she is angry but just because she is anxious. Samantha doesn’t have the kind of meltdowns that people think of when they think of autism. Instead she starts shaking and silently crying which can be hard for others to notice. Then she may find a desk or table to hide under while she curls up in a ball. She doesn’t know what she is afraid of but just that she is afraid and that it is very hard to calm down on her own.
Samantha will also wander off if she gets bored or even walk into traffic when we are in a parking lot if those with her are not on alert.
A service dog will help Samantha to gain independence. It will help her by applying deep pressure therapy when she is anxious which will help her to calm down. It will help to keep her in the areas where her peers are instead of her wandering off. A service dog will even help to open doors for Samantha to talk more with her peers as social interaction is not something that comes easily for children with autism.
Thank you so much for any assistance you can provide us in reaching our goal of providing a service dog for Samantha!