Peyton has been doing wonders for Conor, and we are so fortunate to have him. Autism Assistance Dogs can truly be a blessing. With that in mind, we are in the process of setting up a non-profit call “Conor’s Hounds for Hope” to help other kids get a service dog to help them navigate the world around them a bit better. Our experience has been so positive that we would like other kiddos have the opportunity to have their own companion/helper dog. Stay tuned as we move forward with finalizing the non-profit status and as we set up fundraising events. In the meantime, if you would like to donate, we have a gofundme page set up. Visit http://www.gofundme.com/ConorsHounds4Hope
We are launching the website next week which will give details on how the process to apply for a puppy and other other details. I will post when the site is available.
Ok, it’s 5 O’Clock somewhere in my book and 80 degrees in Conor’s. 5 O’Clock goes without saying, but Conor refuses to wear pants or a long-sleeved shirt despite the fact it’s 40+ degrees outside. It looks like I’ve been enjoying 5 O’Clock at 7am when I send him to school in shorts, but at least he will wear a jacket. I have been losing the battle to have him wear pants, but I fully intend on winning the war. If he can’t find any shorts in the house, he will have to wear pants–I hope. If I’m wrong, and he decides he would prefer to wear nothing instead of pants, then 5 O’Clock will start even earlier at our house…
So having Conor’s service dog is great. He is working really well and Conor really loves him. He goes everywhere with us–grocery store, speech therapy, school and our regular adventures to random places. We get all sorts of comments; folks who say they shouldn’t pet him (not the case), those who just pet him without asking, those who ask what type of service dog he is, and most commonly what type of dog he is so they can tell us about their dog. All good, and a great way for folks to learn a bit about autism, and that dogs are trained to help folks with it.
So, we were at Sea World yesterday where we get the most interesting/ridiculous comments. Best so far: we are sitting at a picnic table and a “gentleman” yells over to us “where’s his cane?”. I thought he must be talking to someone else, but he yelled over again (from 3 tables away) “where’s his cane?”. Must say I was shocked. I just told him that Peyton didn’t need a cane as he is a service dog and isn’t blind. That ended the conversation.
We have a second floor and a low wall/barrier around it to prevent falls to the first floor. Unfortunately, said barrier is about 6 inches wide and easily to climb, and therefore fall from. Conor loves to climb and jump from things and is absolutely fearless. You probably see the problem. So, I installed some decorative deterrents that add about 12 inches to the height and can’t be climbed over. Yes, I felt brilliant for finally coming up with what I thought was a good solution to an otherwise frightening and difficult problem. Then I saw Conor standing on my desk that butted up against the wall and wrapped around forming a corner desk. Looked nice, opened up the space, gave me a lot of room to work. Then I came upstairs and saw Conor standing on the desk overlooking the drop to the second floor. He had been trying to place his Ipad on the shelf above the desk (no, I don’t know why) and was in danger of falling over the wall despite my decorative deterrent. To put it plainly, he would not have survived the fall, or would have been horribly hurt, as it is too high up. Full panic mode kicked in. I immediately wanted to sell the house and move to a single story dwelling. Not going to happen. I went to the garage, got out the power drill and took the desk apart. I moved it to the other side of the room so it is nowhere near the ledge. Then, for good measure, I took (ok, yanked) the shelves off the wall. A good amount of spackling later, the area is better at keeping him safe.
Point being, despite the obvious way a room should flow to create a nice environment, it’s not always possible when you have a kiddo who is not able to follow safety rules. So for those who come to the house, please know that I am aware of Feng Shui, but am unable to apply it to some rooms of the house. At least he’s safe. For now. From that.
Also I am looking to get rid of a big desk if anyone needs it 🙂
As Conor moves down his own river at his own pace, it once again is difficult to try not to put a motor on his canoe to make it go faster. I always feel like it’s a race against time to get him to communicate more with his peers and get him up to speed on everything he does at school, home and in social settings. I know it gets harder the older he gets to “catch up”. So where do they sell those power boat motors?
Needless to say, Conor goes at his own speed, and thankfully he is moving forward. Sometimes at a faster rate than at other times, but forward all the same. I am grateful for that.
Peyton has been a tremendous blessing to Conor and our family. Each time I go to school I hear some kiddo say “there’s Conor and Peyton!”. Conor gets a big goofy grin on his face and bounces down the hall with his buddy. One of the great things about Peyton being at school is that it gets kids and adults talking about autism. Not many knew what was up with Conor and why he wouldn’t talk to anyone. It broke my heart seeing kids trying to engage with Conor and when he didn’t respond they gave up and looked like they thought Conor was being rude and not talking to them. Now everyone knows that Peyton is there to help Conor in many ways including communication. Kids are curious about autism and thankfully ask a lot of questions. Conor is gaining a lot more confidence, and Peyton is helping bridge the gap between a “kid with special needs” and a “kid who gets to bring his dog to school and needs extra help talking”.
Still want that power boat motor though….
Three magic words that put tears in my eyes. I checked on Conor the other night in his bedroom and he was getting out of his bed. I asked him “what are you doing?”. He replied “it’s too wet”. Shocked, since he has never answered a question that I’ve asked, I said “what?”. Again he replied, “it’s too wet”. I went and checked his bed, and sure enough, he had spilled a bottle of water on his duvet and it was all wet.
That short sentence was the first time Conor answered a question spontaneously and appropriately. Yay! I had never even heard him use that phrase before and yet out it came. I am hoping this is the tip of the iceberg and his thoughts we know are in his head will start tumbling out through speech.
I don’t know what triggered him to say that (other than the duvet was indeed too wet), but I’d like to think his buddy Peyton had his paw in there somewhere. Peyton has been with us about 3 weeks and we have noticed more spontaneous language coming from Conor since his arrival. Conor also walks around with a goofy smile on his face a lot when he is with Peyton (which is pretty much at all times). I’m told that as their bond gets stronger, the likelihood of Conor improving with speech, social interaction, lowered anxiety and general happiness will improve. I believe we are already seeing positive responses to Peyton from Conor so my hopes are high. We have been down a long road to get Peyton and the reality is you are never really sure how well the dog will work out for your child. Happy to report that it looks like Peyton might be the tool that takes Conor to another positive level in development. Thank you Peyton!
Photo of our formerly-furry friend, Peyton, after a run with his trainer.
I never thought I would be sitting here trying to come up with as many places to take Conor that I know will end up in a tantrum or otherwise stressful situation. Normally I plan to avoid such places or any change to his routine to mitigate this behavior. But with Peyton arriving in a couple weeks, I’m trying to get as many opportunities for bad behavior, as well as good, so the trainers can show me how to work with Peyton to make future upsetting situations better. My list includes: the dentist (who doesn’t get stressed about that), the mall (stimulation overload for Conor), a loud restaurant–maybe Chuck-E-Cheese (I will probably need my own therapy dog if we go there) and…. still working on ideas. Will definitely be a busy 5 days while they are here.
The trainers arrive on Thursday, April 17 with Peyton! So excited to see how he works with Conor at school, therapy, even at a dentist visit! We had some unexpected extra expenses and I just have to give a shout out and big thank you to Mountain Star Lodge for helping us with a room for the trainers! If you or your family ever need a room in the Lakeway/Bee Cave/Austin area please check them out. Nice folks and nice hotel 🙂