Harlan has been diagnosed with epilepsy, global developmental delays, restless leg
syndrome, and possible speech apraxia. We are still early in our journey through the
special needs world, and are currently still seeking additional diagnoses to explain a
few more of his complex issues.
At 3 and a half, Harlan spends his weeks attending private occupational therapy,
speech therapy and receiving homebound services from the local developmental
preschool. This summer we will add in behavioral therapy, swim lessons, and (his
favorite therapy) horseback riding at a therapeutic riding center. Despite his busy
schedule, he is constantly on the move, and still struggles with sleep!
In July of 2017, Harlan had a seizure while he was eating his lunch, which lead to pretty
bad fall. This damaged both of his front teeth, resulting in losing those teeth earlier than
we hoped! Between the fall, ER visits and multiple dentist trips, we were given a glimpse
of how traumatic a seizure can be. Shortly after this, we decided to start looking into a
service dog that would be able to alert before a seizure, and hopefully allow us to get
Harlan to a safe space and prevent some of his falls. Since his seizures happen mostly at
night, and sleep has been a constant battle, we realized how helpful a service dog could
be at night! Offering Harlan companionship and security, and offering us peace of mind,
is truly worth its weight in gold.
One of our biggest struggles is simply keeping Harlan healthy, and unfortunately this can
lead to isolation. For Harlan, illness means increased seizure activity, which always leads to regression. His regressions range from losing speech to losing the ability to jump or
use a spoon. We have also learned that swings and slides trigger seizures, so we tend to
avoid playgrounds and most activities that are targeted for kids his age.
When Harlan is having an “off” day, balance is always a struggle for him. His service dog
will be trained in the use of a balance harness, a device on its back for Harlan to hold on
to when he is unstable. In addition to being scent trained to detect seizures, the dog will
also be trained in behavior disruption. This means that the dog will nuzzle, touch, kiss or
apply deep pressure when Harlan is having a hard time with transitions or change in
routine. Simply the interaction and companionship from the dog will also help
tremendously with the behavioral issues that the seizures have inevitably caused.
Harlan was recently accepted by 4 Paws for Ability to start the process of fundraising for a service dog. It costs a minimum of $40,000 for 4 Paws for Ability to train and place a
service dog, and they cover over half of the cost for us! We are responsible for raising
$17,000 toward Harlan’s new companion. Please consider donating or simply sharing our story to help spread the word about our cause. There are several different ways you can donate and help our family:
All donations can be made directly to:
4 Paws for Ability
In Honor of Harlan Hawkins
253 Dayton Ave.
Xenia, Ohio, 45385.
Please make checks out to 4 Paws for Ability and please make sure to write on your
check memo line “In Honor of Harlan Hawkins”.
If you wish to make a donation online the website, is www.4pawsforability.org/donate-
now. Include Harlan’s name in the “instructions to merchant” through PayPal. Or visit our Razoo page at www.razoo.com/helpingharlan. You may also call to make a credit
card donation over the phone at (937) 374-0385 Monday thru Friday 9AM to 4PM EST.