Charlie is afraid of thunderstorms, of falling off of his bike, of being yelled at. But mostly, he is afraid of "jumpy" animals. Once he met a chicken that my sister keeps as a pet. He wanted to pet it, which surprised the heck out of us, but when he did, the chicken ruffled his feathers and that was the end of that.
We had two dogs, Teddy and Sparky. Teddy died in July of osteoarthritis, he was thirteen and a half. Sparky got a terrible dental abscess we took him to the emergency vet and they did bloodwork, turns out his blood sugar level was over 500, over their ability to measure it.
We tried insulin injections, but they were ineffective and Sparky died just six weeks after Teddy. We are not sure how old he was, he was our little found dog, but he was well over ten when he died.
Charlie had not loved those two dogs, like we did, but he was never afraid of them. From the time he became aware of them, they were both old and quiet dogs. Not jumpy.
In February we brought home Minion, a small puppy, part Maltese and part Yorkshire Terrier. At first, things were ok, because she was small enough to be kept in a puppy pen and he felt protected from her. After about five months, we had her on a short leash in the house and she would go outside to relieve herself.
Charlie became very afraid of this jumpy dog. I tried every training trick I knew, but nothing would work and I resorted to trying to keep them apart. Unfortunately, the more I did that, the more Minion wanted to smell and taste Charlie.
Finally, through clicker and shaping training, which I have just learned, I have been able to teach the dog to sit and down and to respond to Charlie's commands. But he is still very fearful. He screams sometimes and runs away.
Two days ago, I was so frustrated that I took this sweet puppy that I love, and my kids and drove to the humane society. I was going to turn her over. I saw two other people taking their dogs in to be dumped off, I made a U turn and came home.
I made some calls. I talked to some trainers and finally was put in touch with a man who provides service dogs to children with autism. We are meeting tomorrow to meet with one of his dogs. I am interested to find out if a service dog could benefit Charlie.
Two weeks ago, at our dog obedience class, which I took Charlie to, as well, Charlie met Annie, a service dog. The teacher of the class knew Charlie had autism and introduced Annie to Charlie and the two of them really hit it off.
In the last couple of months I have heard Charlie yell, "I HATE DOGS!" But after this meeting, Charlie has been saying that he wants to see Annie again.
I think that I can train Minion to be good with Charlie, to be docile and quiet like Teddy and Sparky were. She won't be a puppy forever, but would Charlie benefit from his own autism service dog?
When thunderstorms come, would he be comforted by the love of a dog who is not afraid and who cares for Charlie? Would Charlie sleep better with a service dog with him, rather than wanting to sleep with me?
There are fees. We would have to raise $1800. They said that there would be fundraising that we would have to do. I am not very good at asking for money. I am going to post a donation button on Charlie's website and ask if anyone would like to help Charlie get his service dog.
I'll write more as this develops. By the way, as it stands right now, we are going back to cyber schooling. PA Cyber is the school that we have enrolled Charlie and the other kids in. Charlie was in a special ed autism class for six months last year and became so aggressive and upset just by being with kids who acted out daily.
I feel that it's necessary to remove him from that environment and teach him here. He did well with K-12.com, but I feel PA Cyber will be a better choice. He and Rachel will both be doing a third grade curriculum, although Charlie is actually in sixth grade. My big focus will be on language and helping him gain an understanding of the words and how they are built and put together.
Reaching Charlie - A book written by a mom of a child with Autism
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