I write this post with mixed emotions. Mixed emotions as to what others will think along with all the other typical ones that come along with this story of ours.
It was three years ago that Jacey was diagnosed with Autism. I was the mother that wanted to do everything for my child that I could possibly do. Insurance denied providing ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy and she was leaving Part C services when she turned three. I felt completely helpless. We applied for two different waiver programs that I never felt we had a chance at getting Jacey on. Shortly thereafter, we learned of Autism Service Dogs and how one could aid Jacey and our family in our journey of Autism. Here was something that I could make happen. Something that could help me deal with a little girl who had Autism. When all other avenues seemed to be a dead end, here was something that could help us all.
Talk about being a blessed little girl, she was chosen for both waiver programs (of which we could only choose one); and less than three weeks into what I thought would be at least a year of fundraising for a Autism Service Dog, we had met our fundraising requirement. All of this made me feel overwhelmed with gratitude, both for my Heavenly Father who was watching out for Jacey from above, along with all the people throughout the country who had found a special place in their hearts for Jacey and our desire to get her a service dog.
Today, I am amazed at how far Jacey has come in such a short time. I know without a doubt that Jacey would not be where she is today without the waiver she is on, along with the other interventions we put in place. The waiver gives her twenty hours of ABA a week - one on one therapy specifically tailored to her needs! Dublin has been an amazing service dog. The first year having him, I felt relief at being able to tether Jacey to him in public. I felt that when I didn't know how to deal with Jacey's meltdowns, Dublin could offer her something she didn't want from me - deep pressure and redirection.
That feeling of helplessness has diminished SOOOO much as she has progressed in her ABA therapy and as we have learned and been taught how to handle Jacey during her difficult times. The "bag of tricks" that we have now are exponentially greater than they were when she was first diagnosed. Again, I credit this largely to her extensive therapy, the resources for us that have come along with the waiver, and to partly Jacey just growing older.
So where am I going with this? And why the mixed emotions? The reason for writing this post is to let you all know that we will be sending Dublin back to 4 Paws to be retrained and sent to a new family that needs him. Dublin has grown extremely bored in our home. He is not being utilized like he could be thanks to how much the ABA and other interventions have helped Jacey. I feel that by sending him back to 4 Paws, it will give him the chance to do what he was raised to do - to work and to be needed. He isn't getting that here anymore.
Some of the mixed emotions come from knowing that many of you may be concerned for Jacey's well-being over sending him back. For the past several months, Jacey's only interaction with Dublin is feeding him morning and night. She does not seek out his love or attention. We have found many "tricks" in helping her during her hard times as well, as she doesn't want Dublin like she used to. She will often come to us during her times of anxiety or stress, stating "I need....I need", to which we ask her different questions as to what she might need. Most often times, she is needing a deep pressure hug from us.
I created a "social story" (something that is often used for kids with Autism) to explain the changes that are going to occur. We have been reading this story with her, and having her read it on her own time (yep, she's reading!!!) to help understand that Dublin will be leaving our home. We ask her questions to see if she is comprehending what is going to happen and ask her how she feels about it. No meltdowns or extreme sadness has come from reading the story or talking to her about it, which makes us more confident about sending him back.
We feel it is the best for Dublin to return to 4 Paws that he might live out his life as a true service dog, being needed for his trained skills.
(I have attached the social story we have been reading with and to Jacey. The only "page" that is out of order is "Dublin won't be bored anymore" is actually the last page of her story.)