A mum is hoping to raise £5,000 for a dog that would help her severely autistic seven-year-old son ‘massively’.
Cara Hodder, of Gossops Green, explained that the presence of a highly trained dog would bring huge benefits to son Aidan, who is autistic and non-verbal.
However, the cost of training a dog to specifically suit Aidan’s complex needs would cost £5,000.
Single mum Cara, 27, is appealing for help to raise the funds, and is set to take on a number of challenges to earn donations towards the dog that would improve the whole family’s quality of life.
She said: “I want the best for my son and to get him what he deserves.
“I do what I can but I am a single mother with Aidan’s two younger brothers as well.
“I can’t express enough how much this would help Aidan.
“He is not going to make friends at school but a dog that doesn’t ask for anything back would be great for him as he grows up.”
Cara explained that Aidan is ‘big for his age’ and non-verbal.
A ‘best friend’ for Aidan, she said, would improve his confidence, self-control and development over a number of years.
She said: “It would help massively.
“He has got no danger awareness at all so we constantly have to have hold of him.
“The dog has a special harness, and acts like an anchor. They can go out with you and be a constant friend for that autistic person, and calm the child down.
“Aidan can’t look after himself, but as he grows and when he is a teenager the dog will still be helping him.”
The Autism Service Dog Programme is provided by Service Dogs Europe.
The dogs are similar to how guide dogs assist partially sighted or blind people, but are trained especially to help those with autism.
Cara plans to begin her fundraising tasks soon and is considering what she will attempt to raise donations for a service dog.
She said: “I don’t expect money off people for no reason.
“A lot of people don’t know much about autism.
“If you live with it you really do see what their life is like, and what their families lives are like.”
Cara has set up an online donations page, where money for the European-based organisation is donated in Euros.
To donate, visit http://www.letsgofundraise.com/fundraiser_detail.php?fundid=99
For more information about Service Dogs Europe, visit www.servicedogseurope-uk.com