You know you want to be like this bear. Join Team Kaitlyn!
June 11, 2016
BENEFITING: NORTH STAR FOUNDATION
Kaitlyn is our six year old “Aspiengirl” (a loving term coined by Tania Marshall, MSc for what used to be diagnosed as Asperger’s Syndrome and is now considered an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis). Kaitlyn is deeply connected with animals, nature and music, and really wants to fit in with her human peers, but finds it much easier to communicate with animals and adults than with other children. She is verbally precocious but doesn't understand the nuances of language – especially slang and humor - so she spends a lot of time feeling frustrated, mixed up and lonely. School is an especially difficult place for Kaitlyn, as she has sensory and auditory processing difficulty and the noise level in a classroom can quickly become overwhelming for her. The kids and teachers see an outgoing, happy girl on the outside most of the time, and they may not know she is struggling until she is in full meltdown mode.
Despite her challenges, Kaitlyn is a warm-hearted, generous, vivacious girl with a heart of gold and love for animals of all shapes and sizes. She rescues spiders so they can live outside with their families, regularly moves worms from the hot pavement to a cozy garden bed, talks to the birds who forage in our front yard, and asks for critter adoptions for her birthday each year (she is currently the "mom" to two bunnies at a local farm and a mule deer at a local zoo). She has dogs for pets whom she loves like siblings, and although she is sometimes inconsolable by humans, she finds solace in the presence of animals. So when it was recommended that we seek a service dog for her, it made perfect sense.
We are thrilled that Kaitlyn was recently cleared for the placement of a service dog bred and trained by the North Star Foundation. She will be placed on North Star’s waiting list as soon as our $7,500 fundraising obligation is met, which is only half of the true cost of a North Star placement with full public access. You can check out their website at http://northstardogs.com. Please be sure to note that your donation is for Kaitlyn if you donate on their site directly.
Our hope for Kaitlyn is that having a North Star dog on her support team will help her to build confidence in interacting with other kids at school, especially on the playground, where she often feels lost and alone. We hope that the North Star dog will help Kaitlyn to stay grounded through transitions and know that she has someone there for her in the face of frustration and/or a meltdown. A North Star dog will be trained to help interrupt self-injurious behavior and show her the kind of unconditional love that she naturally accepts more readily from an animal than from any human attempts to calm her. We also believe that having a North Star dog with her will help Kaitlyn to keep her chin up and not give up on herself during these times of frustration and sadness.
A little about North Star: North Star Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children with special needs through the use of assistance dogs. Over the past 15 years, they have placed more than 250 dogs in homes of children who face social, emotional and educational challenges around the world, with over half the children they serve on the autism spectrum. We chose North Star Foundation for Kaitlyn's service dog not only because of their vast experience in pairing children like Kaitlyn with dogs to support their social and emotional needs, but also because founder and executive director of North Star, Patty Dobbs Gross, is also a child psychologist with an MA in Educational Psychology who believes knowing how to use the therapeutic tool of the North Star dog is key to successful partnership by way of safety as well as effectiveness.
Thank you for supporting Kaitlyn and our family. We truly appreciate your generosity. Any funds raised over our goal will help another child get paired with a North Star dog.