I’d like to introduce you to Boo’s friend, Zachary. Zach is a fabulous boy in Boo’s class who happens to have autism. Zachary was the first boy to hold Boo’s hand. It was so awesome, watching them walk into school together.
Like Boo, Zach is a frequent eloper. If your child has never eloped count yourself lucky. Boo has tried to escape us many times. Not on purpose or intent. She is just not aware that she is no longer with our group. We can be in the yard playing, blink for just a moment and she is gone.
It is a scary moment for any parent. But for a parent like Zachary’s mom, Laura, it is beyond terrifying. You see, at fiveryears old Zachary is considered non-verbal. He would probably not respond to calls of his name, nor would he be able to tell a stranger his own. Zachary is always in motion. Like Boo, unless he is contained in a stroller he is off. He has no awareness of the danger. At home doors must be securely locked (even in the heat of summer) and windows must have a no-escape feature. He sleeps in a secure tent to limit the chance of him wandering while his parents try to sleep. Yes, I said try. Any of us with a child who has the need to wander sleep with one ear open.
Zach’s awesome parents are turning to 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit organization that places certified service dogs with children of various disabilities. In Zachary’s case, his dog would be trained to provide sensory input, interrupt dangerous behaviors, calm meltdowns and most importantly the dog would keep Zachary safe. The dog would be trained, in the event that Zachary did elope to find him. The dogs are trained to follow his scent and locate him within minutes.
What more could a parent ask for? Well, the money to provide their child with the security he deserves. A certified and trained dog costs $13,000. Parents of children with special needs do not have discretionary income. Our children cost more than the typical child. Our incomes are lower than before as we need to take more time off of work for therapies, doctor’s appointments and other activities to assist our children. Our free money gets spent on sleeping tents, door alarms and adaptive equipment.
To have $13,000 to spend on anything would be huge. To have the money needed to provide safety for our child would be a miracle.
I asked Laura if I could share her story to spread awareness. Last month two families lost their child to autism. Yes, I went there. Autism was the culprit in their death. A child who eloped for less than 20 minutes from her grandmother’s house and was not found alive. This is a tragedy. If it only takes a dog that can locate a child within minutes and save a child I am all for spreading the word.
I am also hoping to help Zachary in his fundraising efforts. They have currently raised $2,400 towards security. If everyone who reads this blog donates $13 then forwards this post to 20 of their friends who donates another $13 it would only take a thousand readers to provide Zachary with a safety friend.
And allow his mom and dad to sleep a little more soundly.
To donate please visit http://www.razoo.com/story/4-Paws-For-Zacharyor you may mail a check with his name on the memo line to: 4 Paws for Ability, In Honor of Zachary Fiorillo, 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385. (If you do send a check, please remember to add Zachary’s name!).