TIPP CITY — Like every parent, Stephanie and John Welter want nothing more than for their son to be safe, healthy, and happy.
For anyone who has met Joe, age 6, they will know that he is a curious, smart, loving boy who is interested in oh so many things like cars, Legos, Star Wars, space, and singing. One will also notice that he sometimes behaves differently than other children his age. This is because Joe has autism.
The official diagnosis came when he was three, but his parents have known for some time that Joe has a disability. Though he tests above average for intelligence, his brain is wired in a way that makes pre-planning and controlling impulses difficult. These cognitive differences make for an unsafe life for Joe. He is extremely impulsive and very easily frustrated. When he gets upset about something, Joe will bang his head or hands on anything close at hand, whether that is mom, a classmate, or a concrete floor. He has great difficulty sitting still for any period of time and has difficulty sleeping at night. He lacks the communication skills a typical six-year-old would have to tell us if he is hurt, to ask for help, or to form bonds of friendship. His parents live in constant fear that he will be harmed, or worse, as a result of these difficulties.
This is why his family is raising money for an Autism Service Dog for Joe. Joe’s dog will be trained by the non-profit organization 4 Paws for Ability. Joe’s dog will administer gentle contact to help calm Joe when his sensory issues overwhelm him in the classroom or crowds. Joe’s dog will also help him during school and help with other urges that are unique expressions of his disability. The family hopes that Joe’s dog will sleep with him and help him to sleep better and stay in bed longer. Joe’s Autism Service Dog will help the Welters to keep Joe safe and will help him to thrive.
“Asking for help is hard, almost as hard as openly sharing this small and personal part of our family’s story,” said Stephanie Welter. “We don’t want Joe’s autism to define one’s perception of him. It is not who he is, but it does affect how his brain works, and what he needs. We decided that sharing our story and asking for help outweighs our uneasiness, because it will help us give our child more of what he needs: A community that loves and accepts him, a larger support network, and a highly trained Autism Service Dog.”
How the Community Can Help
It costs 4 Paws for Ability over $22,000 to train, board, care for, and place a service dog. The family is asked to raise $15,000 in support of its mission, which qualifies Joe for a free service dog. All contributions are tax-deductible.
“We are grateful for any support the members of our wonderful community can give to help Joe become more independent and safe, and to help us navigate this world of autism a little easier. We welcome any and all contributions, and also any ideas on how to raise the $15,000 needed to qualify for Joe’s Autism Service Dog,” added Stephanie Welter.
To donate by credit card, go to https://www.razoo.com/story/4-Paws-For-Joe-Welter or to
http://4pawsforability.org/donate-now/ and indicate Joe Welter in special instructions field or to donate by check, mail to:
4 Paws for Ability, Inc.
253 Dayton Avenue
Xenia, OH 45385
Indicate Joe Welter in memo field.