Austin and Paris by Ericha Flateau
Austin’s journey with epilepsy has been nothing but sporadic. At first, his seizures were few and far between. He would experience drop seizures that seemed to only last a matter of seconds and that would only occur every couple of weeks. After the first initial seizures, these drop attacks would occur every 30 minutes. At this point, his physician started him on an anticonvulsant medication and Austin’s seizures disappeared. I honestly thought we were in the clear, but I was naive to think that because 18 months later, our world was shaken when Austin experienced a grand mal seizure. His seizure type had changed and they continued to occur for months despite increased medication. I was overwhelmed, but I was determined to do whatever I could to protect my child. I started doing my research and was able to find something that could save Austin’s life every day, that would allow us both to live each day without worry, and that would help his little life be more “normal”. I found 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit organization that provides service dogs to disabled children and veterans. I read that this organization even produced service dogs trained in Seizure Alert! At that point, I really had nothing to lose, so I jumped in feet first.
After weeks of fundraising and months of waiting to meet Austin’s perfect match, 4 Paws for Ability placed us with a life-line; Paris. Paris is a Multipurpose Service Dog, and in addition to Seizure Alert she is also trained in Behavior Disruption and Tracking/Search and Rescue. We have had Paris now for 3 years and she has truly surpassed all my expectations. Within weeks of coming home with us, Paris picked up on subclinical spikes in Austin’s seizure activity that were not previously detected in his neurological testing. When Austin’s health deteriorated and his seizure frequency increased, Paris even picked up a new skill; Mobility Assistance. I am happy to report that Austin’s health has increased in recent months and that he is now in a much better place medically. Paris is a miracle that has allowed me to gain control over my son’s disability. Without her and our journey with 4 Paws for Ability, I can honestly say that I don’t know where we would be.