Claire and Callie's Story

Posted on: in [ Placed Service Dog Teams ]

Claire's Story

Update: Claire and her service dog Callie were placed together as an official pair in May of 2019! Claire and her family have been working hard to make Callie a member of their family. Claire is excited to have her autism service dog attend school and church with her, and participate in daily activities. Thankfully Claire likes to play fetch as much as Callie; the two are a perfect pair. 

Check out their original story below, and leave a comment congratulating them!

Please help us in our goal of getting our daughter a service dog. Raising a child who is different in a unique way is certainly a challenge but it shows you how to celebrate the small things. We know and understand that every day is a new adventure, we have no idea what is coming next or how things will turn out, we strive for the best option but are prepared for anything that comes our way.

We have brought Claire to Retrieving Freedom and she loves coming to see the dogs, especially Callie. She loves to play ball and take Callie out to the public. Claire draws pictures of Callie and says she makes her feel better and safe.  

Our daughter Claire was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when she was 2 ½ years old. Around 8 months old, she was falling behind on developmental milestones and her doctor was concerned. Then she started to struggle and fall behind on growing, learning, functioning. We had started having therapy begin and began working to have Claire diagnosed to help us do what is best for her and help her in her daily life. Claire is 6 years old and has been through physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, play therapy, special education services, and applied behavior analysis. Claire benefited so much from her therapies but still has lots of challenges ahead.

Claire does talk sometimes and has lots of language skills but does lack sometimes when overloaded or confused on something or just doesn’t understand what is being asked. Claire struggles with sleep and is getting better because she has an integrated learning system (ILS). She listens to her ILS 30 minutes a day to help keep her system in tune with each other which helps with sleep but not completely. Claire has issues with sleep walking and not knowing when it is happening, so we have to guide her back to bed or to the couch to sleep so she doesn’t get hurt. Claire has sound headphones to drown out loud noises and large crowds because she will have a meltdown from overload and too much stimuli. Claire is very routine driven, she struggles with change in routine unless she is notified in plenty of time and can accept the change. Claire gets overloaded a lot and can end up melting down for 20 to 45 minutes depending on the environment we are in, what is happening around it and what caused the meltdown in the first place. It takes time and patience to calm Claire down and get her refocused.

Claire enjoys reading books and painting pictures when she is overloaded or stressed; it is very calming to her. She also loves to swing in either her sensory swing or her cuddle swing to get pressure and just breathe and calm down. She is very active and goes and never stops - she is like the energizer bunny that just keeps going.

Claire doesn’t understand danger and safety. We have to constantly keep a hold of her or she runs off and doesn’t completely understand boundaries; we are working with her on it, but it’s a struggle out in public and at home. Claire rides in our stroller with her sister so she is safe and can’t easily get away from us when in large places with lots of people.

We have done our research and believe that Claire would benefit from having a service dog to help her deal with being independent and help her with sensory overload when in public and be able to function in public. Claire has a hard time going out and doing fun activities because of her sensory overload, and many other issues, we truly know that a service dog would help us to be able to go out and do family activities without the fear and worry about Claire running away or explosive meltdown and can’t keep going in the store or finish the activity because of overload meltdown. We do think that the service dog will help with other issues that Claire battles with daily like stress, anxiety, sleep and eating to be that comfort she needs constantly throughout the day. We also think the service dog would help in bridging the gap socially for Claire with anyone she interacts with on a daily basis and make it better for her and more successful as she grows and gets older. 

Claire is currently in 1st grade in the general education classroom and in a special education classroom. Claire struggles with independence at school a lot and having a service dog would help her to be more independent and help build up her self-esteem in that she can do those things with that support of comfort of her dog.

Thank you for your support and helping us in achieving this goal!

Steven & Amanda

1 comment

  • Jeffrey | Dec 9th 2018 @ 10:49 PM

    Claire, I a lucky young lady. Knowing Claire and her wonderful parents is very encouraging! We plan to support you this month, and Belle and Dakota say HI! Jeffrey, Wendy, Ian and Belle and Dakota

View All