Luke Wilcox

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Luke in desperate need of Autism Assistance Dog for safety and companionship

lukewilcoxLuke has a wonderful, big smile, bright blue eyes, and curly hair. He enjoys going to school, reading books, playing outside, and pushing anything with wheels. He also likes watching movies and playing on the IPAD. He has the best laugh. He enjoys wrestling with his older brother, playing chase, and being tickled.

Luke is the youngest of four siblings. When he was born he brought healing to our hearts because the pregnancy was normal, delivery went well, and we were able to bring him home from the hospital with us 2 days after birth like most parents experience. This was different for us because our previous son, Brody, now almost 6, was born with a rare birth defect called Pierre Robin Sequence. He required an 8 week stay in the NICU, multiple surgeries to help him be able to breath and eat, and extensive therapy. So, when everything went well with Luke, we were thrilled.

However, it became apparent in the first year of life that something was wrong. He did not meet his milestones as most children do. He loved just staring at his hands and was not aware of the environment around him. He had some feeding difficulties, low muscle tone, and torticollis. He had to go to therapy for torticollis to stretch his neck muscle so he could hold his head up straight. He also did not imitate much. He qualified for early on educational services at 8 months old. We did everything we could do to help him make progress with his delays, but the progress was extremely slow. Luke was late to sit up, crawl, and walk. By 2 years old, Luke was still not pointing, talking, or trying to communicate. He was diagnosed with Autism.

Luke is now almost four years old. He now points and says a handful of words, but is considered nonverbal. He cannot dress himself and is not potty trained. He has little interest in toys and doesn’t know how to “play” like other children. He goes around the house knocking things over, pulling things off bookshelves, and out of drawers. He has a short attention span, has repetitive behaviors, is impulsive, and has difficulty interacting with people. He becomes anxious and has meltdowns in new places or changes in routine. He bangs his head on hard surfaces when upset. Luke also struggles with sensory issues. He chews on things around the house such as furniture, wires, clothing, toys, etc.  At times, he cannot even tolerate clothing being on his body. Luke also has a difficult time falling asleep at night and staying asleep.

Another huge concern is safety for Luke. Recently, Luke was in the backyard with his sister and wandered off. We looked for him everywhere for about 20 minutes and finally had to call the police. We found him playing on the back side of a huge dirt pile where a new house was being built. In public places, he has to be in a cart or stroller (which he is getting too big for) or he will run off. This is so scary and limits where we can go. This is what inspired us to look for a service dog for Luke.

We are so excited to have been approved for an autism service dog through 4 Paws for Ability. We believe a service dog would be life changing for Luke and for our family. It would help him to try communicate more. The dog would be a sleeping companion and would hopefully help him to sleep in his own bed and stay there all night. The dog could also disrupt his challenging behavior by touching, nuzzling, or providing deep pressure and hopefully he would then interact with the dog instead. The dog would be calming for him during meltdowns, new environments, or changes in routine. We would be able to tether the dog to Luke when we go to public places like the park, store, library, or anywhere else so he would stay with us and not wander off. If Luke did escape, the dog is a trained search and rescue dog and would be able to track him. We believe a service dog would make daily life safer and less stressful for Luke. In addition, it would give him a best friend who will love him unconditionally. Luke’s teacher also feels a service dog would help meet his social and emotional needs. He responded very positively to the teacher’s dog that would visit the classroom regularly.

Our family life changed dramatically six years ago. We have been blessed with 2 wonderful, little boys, both having special needs. Our older children are 14 and 11. They are a huge help and love their little brothers dearly. Daily life can be a huge challenge as we try to have some normalcy yet, help our boys reach their full potential. This service dog would be a miracle for our family.

It costs 4 Paws for Ability $22,000 to place a dog with Luke. We are committed to raising $13,000 to support the mission of 4 Paws for Ability 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 or mail a check with his name on the memo line to: 4 Paws For Ability, in honor of Luke Wilcox, 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385.

Thank You and God Bless,

The Wilcox Family