Every day, families around the country are raising money so their children with disabilities can receive service dogs to improve their lives. You can learn about Liam Espina below. Please help make this dream come true!Browse All Dreams
Paws 4 Liam is devoted to providing Liam with a service dog specially trained to help a special little boy with autism. Liam is a 6- year-old boy from Glenview, IL who needs the help of a service dog to help him navigate the difficulties of autism. We have connected with Paws 4 Ability, who will be training Liam’s new pal to help him with communication, mobility, and for Liam’s safety to ensure he stays close.
When Liam was born, he was already melting hearts, with his intense gazes and infectious laughter. Before Liam was 1, he began physical therapy due to his inability to turn himself over or crawl. By 17 months, we started to suspect something wasn’t quite right. Liam was not walking, and he was communicating by sounds alone. Liam initially was diagnosed with early developmental delay and began both Speech and OT Therapy. By age three, his verbal communication had not improved, and his anxiety levels began to increase. He would get frustrated and he could not express himself or could not communicate verbally with us and began banging his head.
At age 4, Liam was diagnosed with autism. We embarked on the journey to learn anything and everything we could so that we understand some of the challenges that Liam will face. Our family was introduced to all sorts of abbreviations and acronyms, such as non-verbal, ABA, IEP, Echoic stemming, picture schedules, transition plans and sensory overload, just to name a few. Kids with autism are all so very different. The saying, “Once you met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism” is very true.
The main reason we started researching service dogs was due to Liam’s inability to understand what is safe. Liam will run at a moment’s notice putting himself at risk.
Our family researched so many different organizations and groups. It wasn’t until we saw for our own eyes the amazing impact a service dog has on autistic children at the Child Neurology Conference. These amazing furry heroes and the organizations that train them are amazing. Our research uncovered so much more that service dogs can do. The service dogs can be trained in a variety of tasks to assist a child. These include behavior disruption to distract and disrupt repetitive behaviors or meltdowns, tethering to prevent and protect a child from wandering, and search and rescue tracking to locate a child who has wandered.
Today, Liam is a lively and lovable six-year-old who enjoys being outside, running and making his family laugh. He brightens our day and has taught us to celebrate small wins. Liam loves lots of squeezes and pressure for comfort when things are overwhelming or too intense. He has no safety awareness, so Liam requires constant attention and monitoring to prevent him from falling, banging himself against surfaces, wandering or running away.
Liam also has anxiety issues and while he is semi-verbal he uses phrase or sounds in repetition as a coping mechanism. The “repetitive verbal stemming” often keeps him from engaging socially and keeps him from communicating. Liam has started 1st grade, which includes new exciting and challenging adventures. Our hope is that Liam’s furry hero can help him navigate these adventures from the perspective of his special world.
How Can You Help?
It costs 4 Paws between $40,000-$60,000 to raise, train, and place a service dog. Our family has to raise $17,000 of that to pay for a service dog.
Donations by check in support of Liam Espina should be made directly to 4 Paws for Ability – be sure to write Liam Espina on the memo line.
Mail checks to: 4 Paws for Ability In Honor of Liam Espina 207 Dayton Ave. Xenia, Ohio, 45385
If you wish to make an online donation directly through the 4 Paws For Ability website, click HERE. Be sure to include Liam Espina in the memo line so that the amount is credited to the correct account!
If you would prefer to make a credit card payment over the phone, please call 4 Paws For Ability at 973-374-0385, Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm.