Jacob Sprowl is a wonderful, caring 11 year old child that is caught up in the turmoil of a disorder that leaves him frustrated and exhausted. Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. TS, as it is often referred to, is more common in males than females, and usually manifests itself between the ages of 3 and 9. To add to the burden Jake was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Many children with AS are highly active in early childhood, but some may not reach milestones as early as other children regarding motor skills such as pedaling a bike, catching a ball, or climbing outdoor play equipment. Jake has a bike sitting in the garage that he never mastered, even though he has tried on numerous occasions. Simple things to us are mountains to climb for a child with these disorders.
Jake’s day can start out on the good side and at the drop of a hat come crashing down around him. The motor and verbal tics associated with TS can be awkward and embarrassing. As he grows older some repression of the tics by Jake can hide the disorder from others, but is still happening full fold to his mind, body and soul. Tics are often worse with excitement or anxiety and better during calm, focused activities. Certain physical experiences can trigger or worsen tics, for example tight collars may trigger neck tics, or hearing another person sniff or throat-clear may trigger similar sounds. Jake has both verbal and motor tics. He will sometimes talk with a gruff voice, just like you would if you had a “frog” in your throat. Another normal tic in Jake’s everyday life is “tooting”, a sound made by pursing his lips. A motor tic for Jake is jerking of his arms or kicking his backside with his feet when he walks. Tapping is another demon that haunts Jake. It can be with his foot or hand, loud or soft, but always noticeable. It allows an outlet for the anger that builds within him.
He cannot tie his own shoes. This is an overwhelming task that the family has tried to teach him. So we must tie his shoes for him. They must be tied a certain way; not to tight, not to loose. The bow must be centered and straight. This complexity is from another disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His homework must be written a certain way and if he is not satisfied he will erase it, or write it over and over until he puts a hole in the paper. OCD affects Jake’s daily routines, in that everything must be done in order or a certain way.
Anger and anxiety have now become a part of Jake’s life. The frustration of TS, Asperger’s and OCD has taken a toll on his daily school ritual and his home life. The desks in his homeroom at school must be lined up every day when he enters the room. This may seem trivial to you, but to a child with OCD and AS everything must be in its place. Jake struggles when everyday life does not go according to plan. When the frustration and anger take over Jake has trouble speaking. He tries to calm himself down to the point where he can talk, but this can take time. He has learned to “breathe”, taking deep breaths in and out allowing him time to acclimate to the ongoing crisis. This may not always work but gives the adult involved a chance to work with Jake to re-direct his actions or feelings.
Jake’s life is also affected by his hearing loss. When Jake was young he had numerous ear infections and the doctor recommended tubes. The tubes left holes in the ear drums. There were numerous surgeries attempting to patch the holes. After 7 surgeries he still has a hole in one ear drum and the bones that sit behind the other ear drum have withered away from the infections. His most recent surgery was to repair a concaved ear drum. Jake has moderate to severe conductive hearing loss and wears hearing aids in both ears.
Jake enjoys playing the trumpet in his 5th grade band at his local middle school. He is involved in Boy Scouts, 4H and is an acolyte at his church. He carries excellent grades with the help of his teachers, office staff, assistant principal and principal. We could not ask for a better school district that is willing and able to work with a child with disabilities. It takes a village to raise a child and our district is the village. The Sprowl family is forever grateful to everyone who cares for Jake during school hours when we cannot be with him.
We look forward to a new addition to the family. A service dog will give Jake the best friend that he so desperately needs, and help deter the meltdowns with a nuzzle, a touch or a lick. To give Jake some normalcy in his life, to take the pressures from the day and melt them away would be an awesome experience that he deserves. We do believe a service dog would do that for our Jake. Please help the cause, Jake’s cause.
It will cost 4 Paws $22,000 to place a multi-purpose dog with Jake. We are committed to raising $13,000 in support of the 4 Paws mission and can reach our goal with your help. If you can help us with a tax-deductible donation, please visit 4 Paws Donation Page (http://www.4PawsForAbility.org/donate-now). Include the name, Jacob Sprowl in the “instructions to merchant” through PayPal. Or mail a check with his name on the memo line to: 4 Paws for Ability, In Honor of Jacob Sprowl, 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385.
Thank you in advance,
The Sprowl Family