Service Dog for Lily
Lily Grace is inquisitive and gregarious. She is also autistic, suffers from debilitating anxiety and has tremendous difficulty with auditory and tactile sensory input. Lily’s anxiety and dis-regulation has worsened with age. A child who used to go to parks, school, family outings and grocery shopping now at age 11 rarely leaves her house. She speaks daily of her desire to go to the park, the local wildlife recovery, swimming, riding her (adapted) bike, or going to a movie but even getting to the car to try to go somewhere can be completely overwhelming for her.
When Lily is overwhelmed, upset or frustrated she self-injures. This is extremely difficult for our entire family. It makes it very hard for Lily to participate in ‘typical’ life activities. Much of her time is spent feeling overwhelmed and frightened hiding under a blanket. Her most common phrase is, “I nervous.”
Our hope is an autism service dog will provide a calming soothing presence and a loving companionship as it has for so many other children. With time this has the potential to help Lily feel safer, more regulated and less nervous about daily life. It is our hope that this will lead Lily to engage in less self-injury and more joyful belly laughter! She may, with the love and support of her dog, be able to once again enjoy outings in the community; to gradually expand her world beyond her bedroom 🌈
•most developmental milestones late or not yet met
•began self-injuring at 2yrs old
•started Speech, Occupational and Physio therapy at age 3
•diagnosed with ADHD age 4
•MRI identified a brain tumour resulting in yearly MRI’s to track growth
•Tested for Autism at age 4 but not given a diagnosis
•Diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, global developmental delay, anxiety
•Wears headphones to dampen sound most of her waking hours
•Tried Lily on various diets that have made a difference for other children on the spectrum but none made any difference for her
•Tried on most classes of anxiety medication with little or no improvement from most and bad reactions from some
•Anxiety/self-injury worsened with age. Lily got to the point she would not leave her bedroom without engaging in self-injury. This often causes bruising to her face, hands and arms, black eyes and split lips. She will also pull handfuls of her hair out.
•unable to sleep through the night
•has greater difficulty if there is more than one person in her home/space at any time
•unable to have friends or family over for birthdays, Christmas etcetera as it is too overwhelming for her
•Tested for Autism again at age 10- diagnosed as on the spectrum
- Spent a month at BC Children’s Hospital having Psych evaluations to rule out other mental illness
•Lily’s team started working with a Behaviour Consultant who specialized in self injury. When we started with the Behaviour Consultant Lily’s numbers for how many times she hit herself per day were well over 1,000. Through therapy these numbers have been decreased yet she still does engage in self injury daily due to anxiety and dysregulation
- Through looking for ways to improve the quality of her life we learned that many children on the spectrum with similar presentation have found a trained service dog to be a very positive and calming force on their lives and thus we began on this hopeful path.