Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Walking...With a Glimpse of the Future

Today was a heck of a day.  It seemed that most of the day was going from one thing to the next that Jacey was climbing on.  I would walk over to her climbing my kitchen drawers where I would tell her that was a no and set her down.  Then she would be off to the entertainment center in hopes of climbing on that.  I would have to hurry over to tell her no again and set her down.  Usually at this point she screams and pitches a fit.  Then she attempts to turn the TV on and off...on and off...over and over and over again.  I stand there and remove her hand from the buttons on the TV only to have her attempt again and again and again.  Imagine this all day long!  It got really tiring, especially when I didn't sleep well last night.

I wasn't able to fold laundry, I couldn't wash dishes, I couldn't leave the room to use the bathroom, and so on.  By the end of the day with Jacey, I was emotionally spent.  Thankfully Judd arrived home before I lost my sanity completely. 

As I type this I am trying to get Jacey to go to sleep.  She is climbing on her dresser, playing with her curtains, climbing on the dresser again, playing with the CD Player that is on top of the dresser, opening and closing the door repeatedly, and again climbing on the dresser.  Thankfully I'm taking something good from this and videotaping it for our video for 4 Paws.  Hopefully they get the idea that she is a CLIMBER!!! 

Anyways, after Judd had gotten home and I had been able to relax for a little bit (Thank you Judd!!!), he decided to take the kids for a walk.  I thought it would be good to get out and enjoy a nice walk with the family and be able to enjoy the nice weather with them.  The two older kids road their bikes while the two little girls hung out with dad...granted Jacey was running ahead a little bit.  I held the leash to Sasha as we walked.  On our way back down a little hill on our road, Jacey wanted to grab the leash from me.  I let her have it and it brought a huge smile to my face.  Jacey was ecstatic!  Oh, if you could have heard her giggle with delight!!!  She would look back now and then with a smile for us as she trotted down the road with Sasha. 

Seeing Jacey hold the leash and walk with Sasha, and hearing her giggle with pure enjoyment made me want to cry as it does now.  It allowed me a glimpse into the future when we have a Service Dog for Jacey.  It allowed me to see and hear the delight within Jacey that will come with the independence she will gain with a Service Dog.  Walking today did much good for my soul.  After the day I had, I think Heavenly Father knew exactly how to buoy me up for another day with Jacey.  I am so grateful for the glimpse into what it will be like with a trained dog next to Jacey.  All by choosing to take a walk with my family and our dog Sasha.

....Now I just need a glimpse of what it will look like to have Jacey go to bed without climbing on everything!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


It's funny looking back to when Jacey was just a baby and remembering things that were "different" than the older two kids.  About two weeks after Jacey was born, she quit taking a binkie (not that she loved it before then).  I can't remember at what point this actually started occurring, but when she got upset, she was upset!!!  Not even nursing would soothe her.  All you could do was lay her down in her crib and close the door behind you.  It was hard to bond with her and I felt like a terrible mother because of this. 

It seemed that as she got older she got a little happier.  She got a little happier when she was able to sit up, then a little happier when she could crawl, and a little happier when she was able to walk.  We both recall really beginning to like her when she was about eighteen months old. 

It was always funny going to the grocery store.  I'm sure you all know what it is like to go up to a cute baby and talk to them in hopes of getting a smile from them.  On many occasions, I would be out grocery shopping with her and my other children.  People would come up and try to get her to smile.  I felt so bad for them because I knew that the chances of them getting a smile in return was extremely slim!!!  I always told the people that if they did get a smile, they would know that they had earned it.  It was hard for even Judd or I to get her to smile.  I'm not saying that she never smiled, but you definitely had to work for it.  Grocery shopping was a different experience having a baby that would just stare at strangers smiling at them.

The spring before she turned two, the local school had a Preschool Screening.  We went and had all of my children evaluated.  They also include hearing, and vision for the older children.  It is fun to watch your child interact with the therapists and see what skills they would display for them.  Everything from stacking blocks, feeding a baby doll, hopping on one foot, identifying pictures, and many other things.  When I took Jacey to it just before she turned two, they found delays.  They were interested in contacting me later to talk more about what we might want to do.  At that time, I just figured that Jacey had been "blessed" with the stubborn jean (and I'm not telling from which side!).  She never would perform for anyone, not even Judd or I.  So, I just figured that the reason they showed delays was because she was so stubborn. 

By the time summer came around, things were beginning to decline.  Jacey started loosing the few words she did say.  Everything was a fight - from brushing her teeth, getting dressed, to changing her dirty diapers.  We finally went to our Pediatrician in hopes of learning what to do.  I love our Pediatrician, but that day was overwhelming.  He thought that she might have ODD - Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  He told us that we had to throw all of our parenting out the window and start from scratch with her.  He also said that we had to create an environment where she couldn't get in trouble.  I wanted to go home and cry!  How could I change EVERYTHING about how I parented my children?  How could I create a safe and discipline free environment without removing most every piece of furniture. 

He also had us set up an appointment with the behaviorist to see what she thought.  Our appointment was at the end of summer.  We saw her, but were extremely disappointed with the "bed side" manner.  We had to fill out a gazillion questionnaires before our visit.  Her nurse came for us and did most of the hands on testing with Jacey.  When the actual Behaviorist walked in, she sat down and talked with us about the questionnaires we had filled out.  The only interaction she had with Jacey was checking for reflexes and muscle tone.  Woo Wee (insert sarcasm)!!!  I was not impressed!  Needless to say, the questionnaires we had filled out leaned towards some behaviors in the Autism Spectrum.  She never told us that Jacey had Autism but that she wanted to re-evaluate her in six months.  In the meantime, she had us start Speech and Physical Therapy. 

When almost six months had passed and Jacey was not progressing, we finally looked at the option of having her evaluated by the North Central Evaluation and Consultation Team.  It is a group of specialists that come together and play with Jacey.  They used the DSM-IV which is considered the "gold standard" for diagnosing Autism.  After evaluating, observing, interacting, and playing with Jacey for about two hours we left for lunch.  They would go over what they had collected and come up with a report for us regarding their findings. 

We came back and sat down with the team while Jacey went to play in a different room with a Family Support Specialist.  All I can think of was the moment that they told us they felt that it was Autism and that she was right in the middle of the spectrum.  My mind was in and out from that point forward.  How could they decide that after such a short amount of time with her?  What did we do now?  Where could we go for help?  How was I to raise a child with Autism?  My mind and body started to shut down.  It was a horrible feeling.  I was so devastated, I was crushed.  I had gone to the evaluation and consultation thinking that they would tell me that she had something else, something that she would outgrow, that it wasn't Autism.

That day, Judd and I drove down to Billings for some meetings he had to attend to.  My mother-in-law, Karen, stayed home with our older three children and we took  the baby.  It was a good time for me down there.  I had some quiet time where I could think and reflect on the things that I was told.  They had given me a kit for the "First Hundred Days After Diagnosis" for Autism.  It was on that trip that I decided that they were the experts and that I needed to accept Jacey's diagnosis.  I had to be her advocate because no one else would be.  I started researching like crazy and talking to people that had more experience than I did.  That is when I learned about Autism Service Dogs.

I hope that if someone is reading this that has a child that is "stubborn" and has delays, don't procrastinate having them evaluated.  Don't just assume that they are stubborn.  Learn for sure if there is anything causing the delays.  I can't change how we did things, but the one thing I wish we had done differently was to have her evaluated sooner.  Early intervention is critical! 

I'm still working on so many things to try and get Jacey the help that she needs.  I am learning and growing in all of my research, but I definitely feel it is beneficial to have Jacey get help from people that have more experience with Autism.  If I don't advocate and fight for her, no one else will!  I feel that I have dealt with the grief process by fighting for her.  I don't have time to cry and wallow away in self pity when there is a beautiful little girl needing my help.  Writing these feelings have brought tears to my eyes thinking of how my baby will always have hard times.  I just pray that I might do everything in my power to make life a little easier for her.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

In Complete Awe

Where do I begin?

When I first started researching Autism Service Dogs, it was as if a huge load had been lifted from my shoulders.  There was something out there to help Jacey.  The path was clear - fund raise $13,000 for 4 Paws for Ability.  Insurance has not been so clear.  We sent in a predetermination letter that was denied for coverage of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), saying that it was unproven and experimental.  I now have to send an appeal to insurance to fight against their decision, since ABA is one of the best and well known therapies to help children with Autism.  Who knows how long that will take to get things cleared up and hopefully have services in place. 

I was so giddy with excitement when I learned that Jacey had been approved through 4 Paws that I thought the skies were the limits.  Once reality set in that we had to come up with THIRTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, my dream of having a service dog for Jacey began to collapse.  The amount that we had to fund raise was SO MUCH!  I held true to my determination of getting things started.  I sent letters, emails, and called the media.  I thought that maybe over the next year we might make a dent in the amount needed.  I had no idea that I would be here today to tell you all that we are there!  Between the auctions at, family, friends, Judd's co-workers, and other donors, they've made the goal happen.  It makes my eyes well up with tears just thinking about the intense amount of love and support that we have received in less than two weeks.

Trying to wrap my head around the idea that the service dog isn't a dream anymore is so difficult.  I was not prepared to be done with fundraising SOOOO quickly.  I joined the 4 Paws Yahoo Group in hopes to get ideas for fundraising and wanted lots of ideas so that I could plan out different events to help make the $13,000 goal.  Yet here I am telling you all that we're done.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am simply amazed.  There are no words to express my true feelings at this moment.  However, if you saw me...I'm sure you would see it!  :o)  I don't think I have ever cleaned out my tear ducts like this before!!!  I told Judd not to worry about crying because I'm doing enough for the both of us!  Thank  you so much for supporting us through all of this.  People have come forward that not only wanted to donate their money but also their thoughts, prayers, and ideas.  Thank you!

I'm sure everyone still wants to be kept up-to-date on where we are with getting ready for the dog and actually bringing the dog home.  Don't worry - I will DEFINITELY keep everyone up to speed on what's happening.

So I thought that the support would probably taper off now that we have reached our goal.  But it hasn't....  Judd called a gentleman that he had been in contact with that had wanted to donate the last thousand dollars towards our goal.  Judd let him know that we were already there.  But he still wants to donate his funds somewhere and we just have to let him know where it is needed. 

But it doesn't stop there!  Judd just called to let me know that a co-worker had informed him that there is an anonymous donor that would like to purchase our airline tickets when the time comes to go out to Ohio.  What do I say to this other than thank you?  I am truly speechless.....  I have never in my life experienced such an outpouring of love from people, including strangers.  Thank you to all of those who have made this dream a reality!!! 

From the bottom of our hearts we thank each and everyone of you!  I look forward to Family Home Evenings, when we can look back at this and tell our children about all the good in the world.  I am constantly telling Bailey and Carsten about the wonderful people that are wanting to help us get the dog for Jacey.  I hope that one day Jacey will understand the magnitude of all that has taken place so that she could receive her four-legged friend.  You all have amazed us beyond our wildest dreams!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You're probably thinking, "What the heck is what does it have to do with your service dog???"

It was brought to my attention that one of my previous posts had mentioned something about Judd's forum that he loves, but never mentioned what forum that was.  The forum that I was mentioning was, and I apologize to everyone over there for not having actually mentioned the name earlier. 

Since starting this blog, I have had a very exhilarating experience with fundraising.  I don't feel that I personally have done as much fundraising as (and I think I have done a bit!).  This forum of men and women are one of the main reasons that tears come to my eyes when I think about what has been done for Jacey and my family. 

For those of you who don't know about (and for those who do), let me tell you a little about what they have personally done for my family.  I know I had mentioned earlier that Judd had gone to the moderator to see about posting our story and the fundraising we were needing to do.  Judd was unsure about it because as trappers, they are always being asked to contribute funds to help with this fight or that battle.  We both were unsure of the response Judd might get from the forum but thought that we should at least try.  At most, we thought that maybe a handful of people would see the post and maybe make a small donation towards our $13,000 goal.  Judd was given the okay to post it and that it would be "stickied" to the top of the forum for two weeks.  We had no idea that this would have even been a possibility.

Well, the story gets better from here!  The next thing we know, there were a few people that wanted to donate items for them to auction off in honor of Jacey.  This took Judd and I by complete surprise.  Remember, we were just hoping that a handful of people would see the post.  It has grown into something that we could never have pictured...not in a million years!  This auction has taken off like a wildfire and we're not sure when the giving is going to end.

The auction that started out with just a few items from different individuals has now turned into more than eighty donated items from many individuals and businesses.  They are continually adding more and more items.  What I find the most interesting is that the people who are donating and bidding on the items talk of not bidding them higher to "win" the item, but to help Jacey receive her Autism Service Dog.  The warmth of the individuals on has humbled us more than anyone can ever know.

Because of, our goal of $13,000 seems to be getting closer and closer by the hour!  As of last night, the total bids were over $8,000.  And since last night, many more items have been donated!  It is absolutely incredible.  Judd and I are completely amazed at the hearts of people.  We are so grateful and eternally indebted to the men and women on for what they have done for us.  Without them, I don't believe that I would feel as confident and sure about when we might complete our fundraising goal.  We have learned of a new branch in our family tree and we are so excited to call them family.  Hopefully, we may be able to actually meet them one day...with the service dog!  Because of, after only a few weeks into fundraising, I feel like we may need to turn our focus onto travel expenses in the near future.  Who would ever have thought? 

Thank you for helping make this service dog a reality

We are truly blessed!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Surprise Article on Jacey

I got a phone call from Judd this morning telling me that I was famous.  He told me to check my email because there was an article about Jacey and me in the Billings Gazette.  I was dumbfounded!  How did that happen?!  It turns out that one of my emails that I had sent out had been looked at by Ed Jorden, a good friend from the time that we lived in Billings a few years back. 

Apparently he writes for the newspaper in the Pet section.  Judd's co-worker from Billings emailed Judd this morning with the link to the article that she had read in the paper.  I am continuously being amazed at how this thing is spreading.  Thank you Ed for sharing our story.  And thank you to everyone else who is sharing our story that we aren't aware of...yet!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

How Long Before We Get Jacey's Dog?

I have had a few people ask me about when we will receive Jacey's Autism Service Dog.  It's funny because when the Heather Desiena from the news station came out and interviewed us, she asked when we hoped to have the fundraising completed.  Judd told her that he hoped we would be done in six months.  I thought that was a great pipe dream that Judd was living.  I thought it would be wonderful if we could get the fundraising knocked out in maybe nine months to a year.

Since that interview, a lot has happened!  I have been incredibly amazed at the generosity of others.  They are not only changing the world for my daughter, but they have already changed me.  I feel extremely humbled by all that is happening for our family.  I always seem to tear up when I think about the people that have come into our lives in such a special way.  I am indeed grateful and very humbled by this experience.

So, Judd's answer of six months may be more like, oh, maybe two months?  Granted, we haven't gotten to our goal of $13,000 yet but we feel that we may be their shortly.  We have found a new set of family on one of Judd's forums that he frequents.  I used to wonder how he could be on the site for so long ALL the time.  Since he first approached the moderator of possibly posting something about our fundraising efforts to right this minute, my view has changed of this forum.  I always understood Judd's need for talking about his interests, but I have learned that the forum has REAL people with personalities!!!  It has been great to learn of this new family that we have found in this forum.

Okay, I know I get off in tangents A LOT.  So back to the question at hand - "How long before we get Jacey's dog?"

I thought that this would be a question that would be answered in six months.  So I called 4 Paws for Ability and learned more....  Once we complete our fundraising goal of $13,000, we will be sent a letter stating when our class we be.  Since we are having the dog trained in tracking and retrieving, it will be approximately 9 to 12 months out.  Currently it is around nine months.  The reason it takes so long from the time we complete our fundraising is because of more extensive training.

Once we complete the fundraising, we have to send in a very descriptive video all about us.  They want to know our house, how it is laid out, our yard, our neighbors, what dogs live where, what livestock is nearby.  They want to know about all four of my children, about me and my experience with dogs, and they want to know EVERYTHING about Jacey.  They want to know what makes her smile and giggle.  They also want to see her have meltdowns...the bigger the better.  They want to see how Jacey does when we are in public.  The video will be very comprehensive so that they can have two to three dogs picked out that fit our family and Jacey's needs the best.  So, once we complete our fundraising, we will be given a class date and they will choose those two or three dogs based on our video.  They then take those dogs and train them in tracking and retrieving.  That is what the 9 to 12 months comes from.  They want to make sure that the dog they pick for Jacey doesn't have a success rate of 80% in tracking and retrieving.  They want the dog that does it 100% of the time. 

I am so excited to know that we could have our Autism Service Dog home for Jacey within the next twelve months.  Thanks for helping make this possible.  We really appreciate everyone that has donated towards our efforts and passed our story on.  Nine months from the time we complete fundraising for 4 Paws for Ability, we should be on our way out to Ohio to pick up our dog and go through training.  I can't wait!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

How I Am Feeling...

Thankful, appreciative, indebted, astonished, flabbergasted, dumbfounded, taken aback, grateful, amazed, overwhelmed, speechless, dazed, shocked, blown away, floored, astounded...........Humbled!!!

There is not one word that can perfectly describe this feeling that I have within me.  The love and support that we have been shown this past week is all of these words and more.    Thank you.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jacey's Story is Getting Out There

I appreciate everyone taking the time to share our story with their friends and loved ones.  It is amazing what has happened this week.  I have talked with people that say they got the email and wanted to double check about how to send a donation through PayPal.  I have thought to myself..."I didn't send it to you...How did you end up getting it?"  And then I learn that a person I had sent it to, emailed it to a few friends, who in turn emailed it on to them.  Someone contacted me about a possible avenue to go down for sending out more emails in regards to Judd's profession.  I mentioned it to him and he told me that somehow this avenue had already been taken without him knowing it.  I am repeatedly amazed at the people that are wanting to help.  I just pray that we may be able to one day pay this forward to someone else in need.  Thank you for being such a wonderful example to our family.  I look forward to looking back at this once we have had the dog a few years, and sitting down with my children during a Family Night, to tell them about the marvelous people that are in this world.  About how we were so richly blessed with love and support.

Again, the purpose of this posting (as the title tells), Jacey's story is getting out there.  We were interviewed by News Channel 5 on Monday afternoon and they aired it tonight on the 6 and 10 o'clock news programs.  I thought you would all be interested in taking a peak.  It will let you sneak a peak of action!  I'd love to hear what you think of the segment!


In Complete Awe...

Between Judd and I, we feel it has become a wonderful full-time job trying to keep up with the thank you's and letting everyone know how truly special they are to us.  Every time I go to write a thank you letter, it seems my typing becomes a little more difficult to read because my eyes get something in them that make them tear up. 

I am simply amazed and extremely humbled by this experience.  This world is full of wonderful people that want to make a difference when it comes to the important things in life.  Thank you for changing how I view the world.  Thank you for caring for Jacey and her needs.  Thank you for making us a part of your family.  Thank you for being who you are.

Like I said in the earlier post, I began to doubt the ability to fundraise $13,000 in a reasonable amount of time.  Since then, you all have given me the hope and the determination to make it happen faster than I originally thought.  It is achievable.  Thank you for being such a support to our family.  I have never in my life experienced such a flood of support.  I just keep telling Judd that this support we are finding is turning into a wild fire and that it is spreading like I could never have imagined.

I guess the main point of my posting today is to thank each one of you for your tender hearts.  Thank you for being SOOO kind and generous not only with your wallets but your time, your talents, and your prayers.  Our family has been touched in a way that I don't think most people experience in a life time.  Thank you for brightening our day.  Thank you for caring for Jacey.

One thing I would like to ask of you - please go to the 4 Paws For Ability website and read their story.  Read why they are in the business of training service dogs.  It is beautiful.  I am grateful for the experience that Karen had and for her determination to make a difference for others.  It is somewhat long, but well worth the time.  I am grateful for your belief in us....I would love for you to believe in the mission of 4 Paws for Ability as well!

Thanks again...Until next time,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

Judd and I have been amazed at how much support we are beginning to get.  Judd posted on a trapping forum last night and also sent an email to a few people this morning, all about our fundraising efforts.  In a very short amount of time, we have been greatly blessed with people from all over coming out to support us.  Judd's forum has started an auction in honor of Jacey with people wanting to donate items for it.  People from his work are wanting to not only donate money for our cause but have also volunteered their time to help us raise funds. 

We have heard from people that we don't even know that are donating.  The mission of 4 Paws for Ability is an amazing one and I am so grateful to be a part of their fundraising efforts.  To those who have donated, are wanting to donate, and help in other ways - Thank you for where your heart is.  Thank you for opening my eyes to the wonderful things that people do

When we were first accepted to receive an Autism Service Dog, I felt like nothing was impossible, even raising $13,000.  Over time, after posting on Facebook and sending out lots of emails, I began to wonder if this was achievable.  I began to doubt people.  I wasn't sure how long it would take us to reach our goal.  But within the past twenty four hours, I feel that it isn't impossible.  Thank you for giving me a stronger hope at what the future can hold.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!