#GivingTuesday Sawyer Brooks is the most amazing 6 year old you will ever meet. He is funny, kind, extremely smart, and passionate about animals, helping our recycling/garbage collectors each week as an "honorary garbage man", and finding ways to let his light shine for Jesus. Sawyer Brooks is all these amazing things and more, but he also has a superpower...Autism. Many people may see Autism as a negative thing, but we choose to view it as Sawyer Brooks's superpower-one that allows him to view the world differently, to see the simple grace and beauty in things around him, and to accept people for who they are. Yes, Autism causes Sawyer Brooks daily challenges, but we are so proud of all the work he puts in daily through various therapies like OT, Speech, ABA, and more. He not only has a full time job as a kid and kindergartener, but he puts in atleast 4 or more hours of different Autism therapies each day. We are so proud of him and all the work he has done in therapy since the age of 12 months! Now, we are hoping to give him a little more help and support in his daily life by training his dog, Ranger, to be a service dog.
We purchased Ranger from a wonderful breeder in Missouri, Okefeild Acres, who specialize in raising dogs whose temperaments are great for therapy and service work.We hand picked Ranger specifically for his temperament and disposition to become Sawyer Brooks's service dog for Autism. We have already contracted with a reputable Service Dog training company in Nashville and Ranger is set for his first semester of Service Dog Training in January, once he is 6 months old. The process of training a service dog takes about 1 1/2 to 2 years until they are fully ready for service work. Ranger will go through multiple semesters of training away at the facility where he will board and train for 3 weeks at a time, then do follow up training in our home with his trainers each semester. This is a lengthy, time consuming and expensive process, but we are so hopeful for all the ways that Ranger will be able to help Sawyer Brooks as he navigates the world with Autism.
Here are a few of the things we hope Ranger will be able to do for Sawyer Brooks as a service animal: to help provide calming support when Sawyer Brooks gets overstimulated/overwhelmed. Things like big crowds, loud noises, new sensory experiences, or simply changes in his environment can cause major sensory overload. Ranger can be trained to look for these signs in Sawyer Brooks and bring comfort and reduce anxiety. Ranger can also be trained to block for Sawyer Brooks, giving him personal space while out in public. Children with Autism have very sensitive central nervous systems. Ranger can use his body to offer proprioceptive input to Sawyer Brooks when he needs that extra deep pressure to calm his fragile nervous system. This can be during the day when needed, but also at night while Sawyer Brooks sleeps. Sleep is difficult for kids with Autism and Sawyer Brooks always needs someone to sleep next to him because of the need for constant proprioceptive input. Ranger will be trained to sleep right next to him and provide that feedback throughout the night. Having a service dog like Ranger can also help Sawyer Brooks navigate social situations that can often be difficult for a child with Autism. A dog naturally serves as icebreaker for conversation and appropriate communication can be a real struggle for Sawyer Brooks. There are so many other wonderful things Ranger will be trained to do for Sawyer Brooks, but hopefully these examples paint a picture of some of the amazing ways a service dog can help Sawyer Brooks thrive as he navigates the world with Autism.
Thankfully the Lord blessed us with the ability to purchase such a wonderful dog like Ranger who is bred for Service work. It was very costly and a financial strain for our family, but we knew the investment was well worth it to help make Sawyer Brooks's life more manageable and full. We are asking for help to fund this life changing Service Dog training for Ranger and Sawyer Brooks. As I mentioned, it is a lengthy process with multiple stages of training along the way. The cost per level of training is $4,000. This covers his boarding for three weeks at a time as well as his daily one on one training sessions. It will be a full-time job for Ranger and will require thousands of hours of work on his part to become the best service dog he can for Sawyer Brooks. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated and will go directly to the service dog training and care for Ranger. We are trusting the Lord to provide a way to get Ranger trained to enrich Sawyer Brooks's life. We know that we cannot do it alone and we humbly ask for any support that you can give! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!