A four-year-old boy named Ethan in New Vernon, NJ received a very special, custom trained Autism Service Dog from Service Dogs by SDWR.
PRESS RELEASE UPDATED: NOV 20, 2017
Ethan, a four-year-old boy in New Vernon, NJ, received a very special Autism Service Dog delivery from Service Dogs by SDWR. Based in Madison, Virginia, Service Dogs by SDWR, or “SDWR,” has a mission to provide specially-bred and trained dogs for adults and children with invisible disabilities like Diabetes, PTSD, Seizure Disorders, or in the case of Ethan—Autism Spectrum Disorder. Last year in 2016, SDWR experienced amazing growth and in addition to 500 working dogs already placed, there are 400 families enrolled in our program awaiting their dog delivery. What makes SDWR so unique, is that none of the enrolled families ever travel in order to receive their service dog or participate in team training.
Yazzie, a golden retriever Autism Service Dog, has already received countless hours of training through SDWR’s service dog in training raiser program where volunteers raise puppies in training for about a period of one year. The dogs and raisers must follow through the foundation and skill set training provided through SDWR trainers at the facility in Virginia.
Yazzie is also a very special graduate of the SDWR Fallen Officer Puppy Program. The Fallen Officer Puppy Program, or “FOPP”, is an initiative by SDWR to honor the legacy of American police officers who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. Yazzie is named in honor of fallen Senior Police Officer Alex K. Yazzie, from Navajo Division of Public Safety Tribal Police in Arizona, who died by gunfire in 2001. Ethan’s Autism Service Dog work with Ethan will carry on in memoriam of Officer Yazzie’s life of service and sacrifice.
Ethan was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD and the age of 16 months old. Ethan is a runner and has a tendency to get separated from his family. This requires both of his parents to be on high alert at all times to ensure he is safe. “He will run into a busy street, climb tall objects, try to swing from a light fixture. When indoors we spend all of our time keeping other people’s belongings safe from Ethan or Ethan safe from others wrath because his hands are on everything,” says Ethan’s mother, Margaret. He also has difficulty sleeping and only sleeps 60-90 minutes at a time and cannot self soothe. Another daily challenge is that Ethan is largely non-verbal with only 130-150 words, while a typical 4 year-old developing child would have approximately 1600. With this inability to communicate tantrums occur due his frustration. Ethan also becomes overwhelmed in crowded and loud situations.
Ethan’s family began their search for an Autism Service Dog in order to provide more tools to cope with Ethan’s every day difficulties. Yazzie is equipped to help Ethan cope with his daily struggles by providing him comfort and a resource to keep him safe. As a working service dog Yazzie is trained to help locate Ethan when gets separated and also acts as a stationary ballast in cases of wandering and elopement. Yazzie will work with Ethan and his parents to provide practical and emotional support for issues like difficulty sleeping and remaining engaged in activities. Since Yazzie is a service dog and covered under laws in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he will be able to accompany Ethan and his family everywhere—from school, to the park, even to the beach when they go on vacation.
SDWR will continue to work with Ethan’s family and Yazzie, to train for specific needs they may have. What sets SDWR apart from other non-profit service dog organizations is this highly customized and tailored training program. SDWR trainers will continue to return for training sessions with Ethan, his parents and Yazzie for the next 18 months every 3-4 months to continue developing Yazzie’s skills to best fit their lifestyle and Ethan’s disability.
Service Dogs by SDWR is a non-profit organization based in Madison, Virginia, and relies on donations to help the Organization in its mission, “Until the Puzzle’s Solved …there’s a dog.” To make or donation or learn more about SDWR, please visit the website, https://www.sdwr.org. To learn more about Autism Service Dogs visit https://www.sdwr.org/service-dogs/medical-service-dog-for-autism/. To find SDWR employment opportunities visit https://www.sdwr.org/volunteers-opportunities/.