Active toddler seeks furry BFF
Rayne Alexander Fantigrossi is a very active 3-year-old boy. When Rayne was about one and a half I started noticing a few things that seemed different. Our once very talkative, social son started to regress. At the time I chalked it up to his father returning from a deployment in Afghanistan. After some months passed we realized it was not simple regression due to the changes at home. Rayne stopped speaking all together and then he slowly stopped listening to anything we said. We wondered if he had lost his hearing and took him to be evaluated. We were told that his hearing was fine but we should start speech therapy. We started speech therapy and she recommended occupational therapy, as well. From there we went to an ENT to follow up on the possibly hearing issue. He sent us back to the regular pediatrician who along with Rayne’s therapy team sent us to yet another doctor. We ended up at the developmental pediatrician who gave us the diagnosis of moderate to severe classic autism.
Rayne’s biggest challenges are that he is nonverbal, lacks socialization skills, performs repetitive behaviors (stimming), and lacks safety awareness. Rayne often wants somebody to sit with him but NOT play with him. This is very difficult if not impossible at times when his father is away with the military and I’m here with two children. When there is no one to sleep in his room he oftentimes will not sleep. He will spend the entire night spinning, jumping or yelling. This frequently ends with him having slept only 3 or 4 hours in a night. Rayne is a very light sleeper so times when I’ve tried so lay down and leave later to feed his younger brother, Jayce, he wakes up an cries and does not go back to sleep even if you return to his room. He does sleep well when there is somebody to sit with him and he is not alone. Rayne loves to run. We often go as a family to the park to run/walk three or more miles per day. Even with all of that exercise Rayne is still all “go”.
Some of the biggest challenges we’ve faced as parents are Rayne wandering or running away and watching him be lonely if we can’t sit with him. He also resorts to stimming if we can’t do “squeeze therapy” with him which he needs frequently. We can’t go out without keeping a tight grip on Rayne. He will run away in a store or parking lot- he will even try to run away if you are walking from the car into the house. He does not understand not to run into a busy road. Multiple occasions I’ve had to sit his brother’s car seat down on the hospital’s sidewalk to run and grab Rayne when he’s pulled away from my grasp and was running toward a very congested road. He is getting too big to ride in carts at stores making shopping exceptionally difficult. He is very capable as far as motor skills. He can unlock doors whether they are locked with a key or if the locks are close to the ceiling. I am very short 5 feet tall and Rayne is 3-feet-6-inches tall so anything I can reach he can pretty much reach with a step stool or chair. He is also strong so he will move things you wouldn’t think he could move in order to climb up to get things he wants or unlock doors.
Rayne is very interested in cars, gardening, running, and science. He is very good at taking things apart. If he watches his dad put something together with tools he might get those tools out and take it apart again. If he can’t get the tools because they are outside or hidden he will use something that looks similar that he can find. He loves to dig and plant seeds and watch them come up. He also enjoys aquariums, the beach, and anything to do with marine life including watching science shows about animals and the ocean. He loves to swim and has been going to swim lessons since he was a baby. The only problem is that he does not understand water safety and when there is a body of water he wants to run and jump right in.
We are seeking an Autism service dog for Rayne. We believe that a dog would help Rayne try to communicate more. We hope that it would help him sleep in place of somebody lying in his room and would be able to do some of the “squish” therapy by sitting on his lap which would allow us to sleep and also get necessary chores done at home while allowing Rayne to have companionship and not feel lonely. A service dog would be able to disrupt some of his stimming by touching and nuzzling him and hopefully that would redirect him to interaction with the dog or something else. We would be able to tether the dog to Rayne so that we could go to the store, park or anywhere and not have Rayne run away without having to have our hands on him holding him all of the time. Some of Rayne’s doctors and therapists are very enthusiastic about the opportunity for him to have a service animal. They believe it will help him be able to live a more normal life and help long term with speech and socialization skills and we know that a dog would help us feel more comfortable when it comes to safety.
It will cost 4 Paws over $22,000 to place a dog with Rayne Fantigrossi. We are committed to raising $14,000 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) or mail a check with his name on the memo line to: 4 Paws for Ability, In Honor of Rayne Fantigrossi, 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385.