This is Sophia. She is our beautiful non verbal, four year old girl. She was diagnosed with severe Autism, and Global Developmental Delay.
Sophia has is a runner, which means she runs away from safe environments. She runs because she is a joyful little girl who is full of life. She wants to play and explore just like any other child. Where she differs is that she has no sense of boundaries or danger. She will take off into the street, in a parking lot full of cars, or towards large bodies of waters. Water is such a wonderful sensory stimulation to children with autism, and unfortunately that is why drowning is so typical for them. We also live near bodies of water which is another concern we are dealing with.
The other issue that is she is a vestibular sensory seeker. She loves the feeling of motion. She loves running, jumping, spinning, falling, etc. We started noticing this when she was jumping off of furniture and kitchen counters. Then it was climbing on top of the refrigerator and playground equipment at school. About two months ago she broke out of class and climbed a near fire escape trying to jump off of the top of it. She did this because she wanted to fly and have the sensation of falling. I could have lost my daughter that day, and its a day I will never forget no matter how hard I try.
Sophia's initial diagnosis has taught me more about life then any book or class could ever begin to do. I tell people that yes, Autism in very hard. It is the unknown, it is heartbreaking at times. It is a totally different lifestyle. At the same time it does not compare to worrying everyday about your daughter being that child in the news that was found in a nearby pond. I cry myself to sleep often and beg the Lord not to take my baby from me. I also worry about the wrong person finding her.
I never knew the benefits of a service dog until we started attending events held by Paws 4 Autism. I saw all of these beautiful relationships between children and dogs like I had never imagined. There are just countless benefits! She can stay tethered to the dog and it will teach her to walk with her parent or caregiver. It can sense her getting overwhelmed and will soothe her. With the support of our community receiving a service dog from Paws 4 Autism will not only give my Sophia her first friend ever, but it will give her medical equipment that will potentially save her life. Thank you for listening to our story. God bless!