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
This is our beautiful 5-year-old angel, Norah Bailey. Norah was born on July 12, 2014 and suffered a massive stroke around the time of her birth. The stroke damaged the entire left side of Norah’s brain causing partial paralysis of her right side, gross & fine motor difficulties as well as developmental delay. She began therapy at 5 months old and up until the age of three, saw multiple therapists 3 times a week.
Shortly after Norah’s third birthday we began noticing some odd behavior that began as an unusual stare. The look soon evolved into a terrified stare accompanied by a strong burst of stiffness and labored breathing. We were terrified. The neurologist soon confirmed that Norah was indeed experiencing seizures – something that was not uncommon given the traumatic brain injury she suffered at birth.
Norah battled with seizure control over the next two years as her episodes began to worsen. At one point she was having up to 12 per day and even experiencing seizures through the night. There were many triggers: unexpected sounds like buzzers, doorbells, knocks on the door, loud voices, clanging of dishes, sneezing, coughing, yelling, pretty much ANYTHING would send her into a seizure. The seizure would then leave her exhausted, confused and she would often scream out of fear and beg to go to bed. She was suffering.
After two years, 7 medications and 4 neurologists we made the gut-wrenching decision to go ahead with brain surgery. This rare type of brain surgery, known as a hemispherectomy, is only performed about 50 times per year in the U.S and only under extreme circumstances in order to reduce the occurrence and severity of seizures. It was our last hope.
On Sept 5, 2019 Norah had brain surgery at Comer’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago and she spent 9 days in intense recovery. She has not had a seizure since.
Surgery has changed Norah’s life. She is a completely different child, who for the first time ever is getting to live life. Although she still has major deficits to overcome and her seizures may return, she has the determination to get through it all. She is loving, caring, funny and her personality really shines! She will soon start therapy to learn to walk and next Fall she will be starting kindergarten. We are working hard to prepare her for BOTH big milestones in her life and are certain a service dog would be life changing.
Last fall our son heard about 4 Paws for Ability at school and he came home excited to share the information. After looking into the organization and seeing how they place service dogs that are trained to alert of seizure activity, assist with mobility issues and redirect behavior meltdowns, it gave me hope. We applied to the 4Paws program and were accepted. We are now on a journey to raise the funds for Norah’s life changing canine companion. Service dogs cost around $50,000 to breed and train. 4 Paws takes care of most of that fee but asks that each family raise $17,000 toward the cost of their dog. We are reaching out and asking for your help in achieving our donation goal.
Any contributions made to help Norah would be greatly appreciated.
If you can help Norah, please visit the 4 Paws Donation Page (http://www.4PawsForAbility.org/donate-now). Please include Norah’s full name on the donation as instruction in the “Description” field of the form on the second page of the Authorize.net donation. Donations can also be made by mailing a check with Norah’s full name on the memo line to:
4 Paws For Ability
In Honor of Norah Bailey
253 Dayton Ave.
Xenia, OH 45385
Thank you for taking the time to read about our princess. She truly is a miracle! 😊
Hi! I’m Brady Wooten and I’m 11 years old and I’m in the 4th grade at Florence Elementary School in Florence, MS. A little bit about me: I love my Roomba vacuum cleaner, chips and cheese from El Cabrito, Paw Patrol anything (recently, Super Wings), my family (Nana and Poppy first, then the rest of them), my teachers (school and church), all police officers and firefighters, a handful of close friends, and just about any animal I meet, except for bugs.
I have had seizures my whole life; my first one when I was just 3 days old. I was diagnosed with infantile spasms when I was 3 months old and received daily injections for months to get those under control. Some of my seizures are noticeable, but some are not. Some even happen when I sleep. I also have a visual impairment that makes it hard for me to judge depth perception, so I’m a little bit clumsy. I’m also on the Autism spectrum, which is a fancy word for I’m just a little different than most people. Basically, I like my routine, about 6 food items, I don’t wear itchy clothes and I don’t like loud noises (unless it’s me making the loud noise).
Recently, my mom applied for a service dog for me and we were chosen to receive a service dog from 4 Paws for Ability! This dog will be my best friend. It will play with me when I want to be alone but not really; it will walk beside me and make sure I don’t fall down, and my mom is most excited about it telling her when I’m having a seizure. I am going to brush its hair and feed it. We will go for walks and play in the backyard. My mom said that it will even get to go to school with me. I can’t wait for it to ride the bus with me!
My mom said we can get the new dog when we raise the money for it. I gave her all the money in my piggy bank, but she said it’s not enough. Do you think you could help me give my mom some of your money? Well, not my mom, but 4 Paws for Ability at 253 DAYTON AVENUE, XENIA, OHIO 45385. You can send them the money directly or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/donate/1062721800728485/ (that’s a lot of numbers)
Thank you for your help! I can’t wait for you to meet my new dog!!!
4 Paws for Amelia
Hi! We are the Kilby Family, and we would love to introduce the sweet little monkey we call our daughter, Amelia. Amelia, or Amy for short, is the sweetest two-year-old that we know! She is full of smiles when she’s in the right mood, loves the tickle monster, and adores anything made of yarn. Amy has also been diagnosed with autism, global development delay, pervasive sensory disorder, and speech delay.
As you can probably imagine, this kind of dedicated training isn’t cheap. 4 Paws funds most of the $40,000-$60,000 with the family only responsible for $17,000. Insurance refuses to cover anything relating to the cost, so we’re collecting donations for this amazing tool to help Amy, and any little bit helps!
4 Paws For Ability
In Honor of Amelia Kilby
253 Dayton Ave.
Xenia, OH 45385Thank you and have a wonderful day!
Sarah J. Kilby
A lot of people can make you smile, and a few will make you cry, but it takes someone special to make you smile with tears in your eyes. Gracie is that someone special!
We were new to the foster system when a social worker texted, “I have a two-year-old African American female. No medical concerns. Does know how to cuss! (lol). Visitation with birth parents in Lexington and is not up for adoption. Would you consider?” Although she was younger than we anticipated and nothing fit the mold of what we envisioned, we quickly replied “yes.” We already had three biological children ages 4-7 and thought “what’s one more.”
At only two years old Gracie had already been shuffled through seven homes, and we quickly found out why. This tiny little powerhouse was dynamite! She bit everyone, screamed, kicked, cried, and due to a sensory processing disorder, and was difficult to hold. To say she was challenging is to downplay the situation.
We later discovered that Gracie had been born at 24 weeks, to a woman that was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Her first months were spent in the NICU, followed by cardiac surgery and pneumonia. We call Gracie a little miracle baby; she was and still is a fighter!
Her first two years in our home as a foster child is a blur of doctors’ appointments, therapy sessions, visitations with her birth mother at the drug rehab house and new medical diagnoses. As time goes on we are discovering new pieces to her complicated puzzle. She has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, High Functioning Autism, OCD, Severe Anxiety and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD/DE). Despite traumatic past and current disabilities, she is bright, funny, athletic and very kind.
Our family has cried over her, prayed for her, loved her and not given up on her. When she was four years old, we were able to legally adopt her, and we are now her forever family.
Although Gracie has progressed there is much more to be done to help her live her best life, to be sociable and function at her highest potential. That’s why we were thrilled when she got approved for a service dog from 4 Paws for Ability.
No longer will we panic because she has wandered off in a crowd. She will be able to tether to her dog and in a worst-case scenario her dog will be able to track her. We can finally sleep at night knowing her dog is in bed with her, soothing her throughout the night. Her special dog will nudge her when she begins repetitive behaviors and it will help ease her anxiety so she will no longer chew on her fingers until they bleed. Her dog will be her best friend, helping her with much needed social skills.
We are so thankful for the opportunity to help Gracie move forward. God sent her to us for a reason and we will never give up on her! Through the tears and smiles, we thank you for supporting us in our mission. Your donations and prayers are greatly appreciated. To raise $17,000 seems daunting but with your help and God’s continued blessings, all things are possible.
4 Paws For Ability: Winter pre-sale is here – and it’s on fire.
Christmas tee and the most requested Search and Rescue design, plus Fanny Packs. These are all pre-sale and will ship in December.
Calendars close October 31, everything else November 17. Shopping starts now! If you see this, tell everyone you know!!
4 Paws For Ability: 200 calendars have been pre-sold! Sneak peek 2 and 3 as promised!
We’re doubling down for the next goal! If we can sell 100 calendars this week, we will release two more months PLUS the associated date grids which feature even more bonus photos this year (peep leap day for an example!).
Tell your friends and buy your calendar!