Ethan Long

Posted by & filed under Make a Dream Come True.

img_4656Ethan is an almost 3 year old amazing little boy. He was born with congenital scoliosis and deformed/missing left ribs which was causing breathing issues. At 9 months old he had two vertical expandable prosthetic titanium ribs (VEPTR’s) implanted and will require surgery every 4-9 months until he’s done growing in his teens. 

At 20 months old Ethan was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is a very bright, loving and happy little boy but has difficulties in daily tasks. He is non-verbal and at times, there is frustration because he can’t communicate what he wants or needs. He visually stims by waving items in front of his face, whether it be a pen, pencil, toy or his own hands. He has a hard time with other kids, I believe this stems from sharing hospital rooms with upset/crying kids. He runs the minute you put him down and has no awareness of the dangers that surround him. Each surgery proves to be more and more difficult since Ethan doesn’t understand what’s going on, even if we try to explain it to him. Ethan gets therapy 21 hours a week and has made AMAZING progress, especially in the last few months. He now points, so this helps with communicating what he wants, but only goes so far. He is starting to play with toys appropriately, his joint attention has gotten so much better and he is giving high fives and loving praise for when he does something good. These all seem like such easy tasks, but for kids with Autism they are anything but and we celebrate these successes with such pride and joy. With therapy also comes a lot of frustration. When Ethan is stimming and the therapists try to redirect him, this often gets him upset and he will go to the floor and start banging his head on the floor. We don’t try to eliminate the stimming, as it’s something he does because it makes something in his little body feel right, but after a certain amount of time the therapists will try to show him the appropriate way to use the object. 

Ethan loves to be outdoors, he has so much energy and just loves to run around the yard, usually with a smile on his face and a laugh that will warm your soul. He also loves to swing, look through books and draw/color/paint. We aren’t sure what his masterpieces are yet, but we love them regardless. 

A service dog will help Ethan in multiple ways. Behavior disruption techniques, which include lap, nuzzle, touch, deep pressure and kisses would all help when Ethan is stimming or head banging to redirect his behavior. He LOVES deep pressure and seeks pressure, so the service dog would be able to help him in that way as well. Because Ethan runs off, tracking and tethering will also be beneficial. During the training we attend, the dog will learn Ethan’s scent and we will work on tracking and also practice tethering Ethan to the dog while walking, this allows him to stay with the dog and not be able to run too far from the dog during that time. I hope it will also help Ethan communicate with others. Having a dog often brings attention to the animal, people will approach and ask the dogs name or any other questions and this could greatly benefit Ethan’s social skills. We also hope that he will want to give it basic commands, so if he’s still not talking when we receive the dog, we hope it will be a motivator and he will try to talk. 

I feel with his many surgeries, having a companion that can be there with him through that will also be greatly beneficial. We are a military family as well, always on the move, I just know him having that one constant companion will do more for him than I can even imagine. 

Thank you all so much for visiting our page and taking the time to read about Ethan. He is such a blessing and deserves the world, and as parents, we try our very best to do just that. 

It will cost 4 Paws $34,000 to place a dog with Ethan. We are committed to raising $17,000 in support of the 4 Paws mission. If you can help us with a donation, please visit the 4 Paws Donation page

Include Ethan‘s name in the “Instructions to Merchant” if you use PayPal. 

Donations can also be made at

You can also mail a check with Ethan‘s name on the memo line to: 

4 Paws for Ability
In Honor of Ethan Long (Include name on check memo)
253 Dayton Ave. 
Xenia, OH 45385

Thank you all so much for being involved in this journey with us!  To follow our 4 Paws journey on Facebook :
-The Long Family