Help to brighten Mattison’s day with an Autism Assistance dog!
On July 22, 2010 we were blessed to have a beautiful, happy little girl – Mattison S. Kimbler. She is our only child and the center of our world. Over the next year and half she began to laugh, roll-over, crawl and develop as any child should. We enjoyed watching her grow, with every new accomplishment documented by pictures, videos and the immediate phone calls to let everyone know of Mattison’s first steps, words or even her first attempt to use a spoon. With every baby check-up, Mattison had exceeded developmental milestones. As a first time mother, I took comfort that all the books, magazines and child development programs I spent time and money on were really worth it!
In December of 2011 Mattison caught what we thought was a casual winter cold. Over that next few days Mattison remained very quiet, sleepy and only wanted to be held or carried around. But Mattison then spiked a fever of 102.8. This, in addition to her other behavior changes, prompted her to be admitted to the neurology unit of the local children’s hospital. Mattison was only 17 months old at the time, but she bravely endured being placed in an isolation crib, given IVs, blood tests, an MRI and an electroencephalogram. As a parent, I admit I was frightened by looking at all these scary medical devices and can only imagine what she was thinking, but Mattison stayed brave! After the results came in, doctors were unable to identify what caused her to become so sick. It took Mattison a couple weeks to get her energy back and at that point we noticed our little girl had started to change.
Mattison regressed back to crawling and unsteady baby steps. She didn’t talk nor interact as much as she had in the past. Over the next few months she continued to change. She regained a steady walk but her behaviors were different. She became more withdrawn, fearful and showed little interest in her favorite toys. Mattison was still a happy little girl but she found joy in her own little world. She was often unaware of things around her. I could be right beside her doing jumping jacks and calling her name without any response at all! She showed no interest in other children playing with toys outside, instead choosing to play with a stick, walking around the fence and listening to the sounds it made as she ran it along the chain links. It was during this time we had been referred to a developmental pediatrician for observation. It wasn’t long before one developmental pediatrician soon became a team of physicians who studied language, social interaction, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, cognitive function, emotional stimulus, and psychological aspects. After all the subsequent evaluations, the team’s decision was made without hesitation and unanimously concluded – Mattison has Autism!
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to hear in my life. She was so young. Autism is usually diagnosed in Pre-K or Kindergarten. But due to the extent of her “symptoms”, Mattison was diagnosed before her 2nd birthday. All I could think was, “How can this be? She was advanced in meeting all her milestones less than a year ago!” The more I researched the disorder, the more I realized how much our lives were really going to change!
Mattison is now 3, and has made huge improvements but still struggles in daily life. Mattison is VERY active! Because of her short attention span and ADHD tendencies, everyday tasks such as eating lunch or getting dressed are very difficult.
At home, Mattison is outgoing, happy and full of life. However, her behavior outside of the home is often the total opposite. Mattison becomes anxious and easily triggered by sounds or lights in public places. During our everyday errands, Mattison is comforted only by being held or strapped in her stroller. The simple task of picking up a gallon of milk can turn into a large ordeal.
With the help of therapies, Mattison has begun to interact with some people and children again. While it has decreased some of Mattison’s triggers, it has made her susceptible to “stranger danger”. Accompanied with her tendencies to wander, you are truly unable to take your eyes off her for a second!
Her need for constant supervision continues at home also. Mattison is very smart and has mastered the ability to unlock the doors. This became apparent one night when I quickly tried to use the bathroom, convinced Mattison would be fine watching her movie and playing in the game room. I came out to find the room empty. I called her name as I ran up and down the stairs. Panic set in as I looked through the laundry room to find an open back door. In a full sprint, I darted to the back yard to find Mattison kicking her ball around. While thankful, I was terrified.
She is also unafraid of heights, which entices her to climb just about anything she can get away with. Plus her inability to realize danger usually prompts her to jump down from places instead of climbing down.
These very special autism assistance dogs are trained to assist Mattison in ALL of these trouble areas. The familiarity of a constant companion reduces anxiety and stress in public. Autism assistance dogs can help identify Mattison’s triggers and form distractions. And the special tether leashes will inhibit Mattison from wondering and will allow us as a family to peacefully walk through a store together for the first time in her life!
Working with Mattison’s “quirks” does make life a little more difficult, but she’s our Mattison and this is our life! Mattison has so much to offer the world! She is an amazing child to be around, and fills everyone around her with joy. With your help we can provide a special little girl with a very special companion who can help her in experiencing all the world has to offer not only as a “typical child” but for the rest of her life. So as a family, we humbly ask for your help in providing Mattison Kimbler with an Autism Assistance Dog.
It will cost 4 Paws $22,000 to place a dog with Mattison Kimbler. 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, Mattison Kimbler in the “instructions to merchant” through PayPal. Or mail a check with her name on the memo line to: 4 Paws for Ability, In Honor of Mattison Kimbler, 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385.
Thank you for your support,
The Kimbler Family