Alex would be happy to meet you and, believe me, you would remember him. That’s just the way it is with him. He loves to talk to people, tell them about his interests, talk of miscellaneous tidbits, ask a dozen questions, laugh, and share his character figures. There was a time, quite a long time, when Alex didn’t talk at all and we wondered if he ever would. Time and hard work have helped him come a long way. Now his words flow like popcorn. We are so grateful for his progress in all areas and seeing how far he has come gives us hope for where he is going.
In his early school years, Alex was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We were extremely concerned when we realized Alex would not experience our family’s love for learning through academics. Yet he shares the desire to learn in other amazing ways. Yes, he struggles to read at a primary level but he notices if the books have been rearranged on the shelf. Simple adding is tough for him but he can name all the Doctor Who characters in sequence. And, no, the scientific method is nowhere on his radar. On the other hand, yesterday he ran up the stairs singing a show tune from Hamilton.
Alex is generally happy, pleasantly interactive, and fun to be around. However, just like any of us, he has his unhappy, anxious, unpleasant moods, too. Our team discussed the benefits of a service dog in the last few years but a recent experience impressed on us the need to act. Earlier this year, Alex had extensive back surgery to correct rapidly advancing scoliosis. Social stories, conversations, and answers to a multitude of questions could not prepare him for the trauma, confusion, and physical limitations he endured. We know a service dog can’t eliminate such experiences or even instantly change a mood, but it can be a comfort, a cohort, an ever-present touchstone for remembering basic steps for calming and coping,
What cuts deep though is what is missing in Alex’s life. As you can imagine, navigating the typical social seas is foreign to him. He has classmates at school who have similar challenges so “just hanging out” is a rare opportunity. He’s got cool parents (in our humble opinion) but they’re parents - not buddies. Even his cherished sister has gone away to college. Because he is unable to put a name to his emotions, he can not tell us when he is lonely. But we see it.
Alex has loved dogs since he was a small child. Most dogs make for loyal companions - play fetch, take walks, hang out on the couch. Alex needs that. And more. A specially trained dog can be so much more. We foresee a dog that helps motivate reading and reinforces communication skills such as voice modulation and times for quiet, one that provides security and calm in anxious times or during sleep.
As Alex turns fifteen and moves into adulthood, we consider his future, how we can support him, as well as what options are available to him. We believe that a service dog will create in Alex a sense of purpose and responsibility, both essential in employment, relationships, and personal well-being. Imagine how a WAGS 4 Kids dog will help Alex develop his self-determination, self-advocacy, and self-worth!
Thank you for believing in Alex with us.
You can also mail a check or money order to:
W.A.G.S. 4 Kids
112 East Center Street
Berea, OH 44017
Please make a memo that your donation is for Alexander