When Ned was 3, he was diagnosed with ASD.
He is completely non-verbal and relies on sign language, grunts, groans, picture cards and anything else he can find to let us know what he's thinking.
It wasn't always like this. For the first few years, we were really stuck trying to get the right help and care. He is a ray of sunshine. He loves music and dancing; he'll dance in the middle of the road if he's in the mood!
But he also has some pretty savage meltdowns, thrashing and throwing himself around from sheer frustration and anguish. He self-harms. We've seen him bite his own hands, and the marks it leaves on his skin.
This happens a lot less lately, as we've figured out how to communicate with him, and given him ways to communicate with us.
After a long wait, Ned has finally been accepted into the Smart Pups Assistance Dogs program. Through this program, Ned will be paired with a specially trained service dog - a puppy who will grow with him and be his companion for life.
It's such wonderful news, and we're honoured to have been chosen. But of course, this is just the start of a very long journey.
First, we must raise $20,000 to cover the costs of raising and training a Smart Pup. Then only after 12-18 months of intense training will the puppy be ready to help a child with autism. The sooner we can raise the funds, the sooner our boy can get help.
We're very excited. Ned will have a best buddy, a calming influence who can guide him through life. In the last few months alone, school and counselling has helped him improve in leaps and bounds. These dogs are real heroes. With a Smart Pup, we think Ned will be on his way to living a more normal life.
However long it takes, we are determined to get Ned an autism assistance Smart Pup. There are a few ways to help us out, if you'd like to support our cause.
Donate directly to Smart Pups via Paypal. When they ask you to review your donation, type the following info in the "NOTES TO SELLER":
Donations over $2 sent directly to Smart Pups are tax deductible. Smart Pups will issue a receipt where a return email address is provided.
Donate directly to Smart Pups via Direct Deposit (netbank), using the following info in your bank transfer message:
Donations over $2 sent directly to Smart Pups are tax deductible.
Good2Give Workplace Giving lets you donate as a company, with automated calculations for employer donation matching. To support our cause through Good2Give, sign up and select "SMART PUPS" as your charity of choice.
Be sure to leave a message letting us know you've signed up, so we can tell Smart Pups (and all our supporters can see how lovely you are!).