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 Lucas Sumpter below. Please help make this dream come true!Browse All Dreams
We are trying to raise money for a service dog for our sweet boy, Lucas!
At the age of 2, Lucas was diagnosed with Autism and Speech Apraxia. More recently, he received a diagnosis for anxiety, depression, and a sleep disorder. It has had a profound effect on our family’s day to day life. Because of this, we have chosen to pursue a service dog to help make life a more manageable for all of us.
As a baby, Lucas was quiet and content to just lay there. As a first-time mom, I didn’t think anything beyond him being an “easy” baby. The one consistent issue was that he choked whenever he would try to eat or drink. After being hospitalized with pneumonia at 18 months, a swallow study was recommended. The various studies resulted in intensive speech/occupational therapy. Despite the intensive therapy schedule, we saw little to no progress on his development milestones.
When therapy yielded no real results, our pediatrician referred us to a neurologist. A two hour evaluation finally gave us some clarity on what we were facing–Autism and Speech Apraxia. Our amazing therapists had prepared us for this possibility. We were lucky to have so many people helping us find various services and support.
With a diagnosis in hand, we dug our heels in and hit therapy head on. It was slow going, but Lucas started gaining words! While he was making progress, it was still incredibly difficult for Lucas to communicate and his frustration grew, leading to explosive episodes that could last for hours.
Lucas is now 5 years old, and is in his last year of preschool. He absolutely loves school. His teachers adore having him in class and say he is a model student. While this makes my heart soar, it’s also absolutely crushing to hear. Lucas could be the poster child for Delayed Effect. He has become so good at hiding his frustrations and stressors, that his teachers sometimes forget he actually has autism. Unfortunately, as soon as he leaves school his emotions overwhelm him. It’s like dropping a Mentos into a freshly opened soda; the car door shuts and the screaming starts. Once he knows he is in his comfort zone, every single trigger from the day comes spewing out. This is one of many things we hope to ease.
Lucas is also an eloper. He will wander at any time given the chance. Living in a river town, it’s always in the back of my mind that he could wind up being the next news story of a child drowning after wandering from home. We have turned our house into a veritable fortress, but the worry is always there. When struggling with his emotions Lucas tends to bolt away from caregivers, headless of danger. This has led to some very scary incidents in parking lots and roads. His meltdowns are difficult to predict and being able to make it through a quick trip to the grocery store with him would be life changing.
Most recently, Lucas was diagnosed with a sleep disorder, which he is now on medication for. Of all the things we’ve dealt with so far, this was the most sensitive for me. We never wanted him to be permanently on medications, and while it has been helping, it’s still a tough one for me. He operates on two to three hours of sleep a day, and it makes him almost impossible to manage. He wakes up in the early morning hours and wanders the house. Even securing the house as thoroughly as possible, there is still always a potential that something serious could happen, so I am usually up with him. It is our hope that a service dog can act as another safety net.
We are so excited to get this process going! I can’t describe how grateful we are that 4Paws is here and willing to help our family.
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 Lucas Sumpter should be made directly to 4 Paws for Ability – be sure to write Lucas Sumpter on the memo line.
Mail checks to: 4 Paws for Ability In Honor of Lucas Sumpter 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 Lucas Sumpter 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.