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 pup 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 the be choked whenever he would try to eat or drink. After being hospitalized with pneumonia at 1.5, 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 mile stones.
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.
4 Paws For Ability
In Honor of Lucas Sumpter
253 Dayton Ave.
Xenia, OH 45385