Lu has been helping us decorate the new house for Christmas, and I finally finished all of the paperwork to apply for Lu to get an autism service dog. It was a lot of paperwork and required a prescription from a doctor as well as a letter of medical necessity, but we did it all and are now waiting to hear back about our application. Based on all of the information that I have gathered I am quite certain that Lu will be approved for the dog so we are starting our fundraising efforts now. I know that this will probably sound insane to most people but the cost of a service dog is between $10,000-$15,000 over the lifetime of the dog depending on the particular needs that the dog is trained to meet. The company that we are working with, Arizona Goldens, told me that no one ever just buys a service dog, everyone fundraises for at least six months towards the purchase of their dog. Our hopes for the ways in which this will improve Tallulah's life are many, but the major point for me is safety- she has no understanding of the dangers posed by moving vehicles, deep water (we have started swimming lessons but she cannot yet support herself in the water which does not stop her from running fearlessly off of the edge of a pool), strangers and putting things into her mouth that she shouldn't, both food items which are forbidden by her restricted EE diet and non-food items which could be dangerous. She is also what is knows as and eloper- one who is wily, escapes and wanders. We are constantly on red alert and put her school aide and therapists and tutors on red alert to beware of her tendency to wander.
We are also hoping that the dog will be able to help her with transitions from one environment to another. Our most speculative hope from reading testimonial accounts, is that the presence of the dog at the foot of her bed might enable her to sleep in her own room and put herself back to sleep when she wakes throughout the night. Right now Tallulah still sleeps in the same room as us, her tiny bed pushed right up against ours so that she has to walk over me to get up in the night so I will wake and be able get her back to bed or follow her. I have had so many people ask me why I don'd just let her go when she gets up at night, but Lu is a danger to herself at the best of times and wandering around alone in the dark is just a recipe for disaster that would most likely lead us all to the ER. I would much rather lose sleep by keeping her safe than lose sleep by taking her to the ER in the dead of night. The idea that the dog could help her with sleep is mainly based on observations of autistic children with night terrors and nightmares. Lu rarely if ever wakes screaming or fearful, so I am not sure that this is the source of her incessant sleeplessness, but the effect of her sleeplessness on the entire family has reached such a critical point now that I would buy the dog just for that purpose alone if someone could assure me that it really would help her sleep. Even just a little. Still, even if that benefit does not materialize all of the other potential benefits of the dog make it something that we are now ready to pursue whole heartedly.
I have to admit here that although Lu is doing awesome in her therapies and is now rocking it at school three days a week, I have slowly come to the realization that all of this incredibly intensive, expensive and beneficial therapy is not likely to result in her being able to reagin skills to the tune of shaking off her autism diagnosis as I have heard of other children doing by the age of 5 or 6 or 7 or 8. It is not many, not the majority, definitely the minority, that are able to regain age appropriate skills to such an extent that their autism is no longer classified as a disability, but of course, like all other parents pouring their hearts and souls and every waking hour and life savings and money from family members and anywhere else they can get it into programs like these, it was our hope that Lu would be one of the lucky few. I don't mean to belittle her accomplishments by any means. She was dealt a terrible hand by genetics and fate and has made Herculean gains through sheer will and force of effort. But still she is autistic. And I have to face the fact that she will be all her life. So we have to make plans for that. We have to plan for the future. For her safety and security and quality of life. What happens to her if something happens to us, her parents, her caregivers and supporters who understand her when others most likely will not? The dog is not a solution to all of this. We have a lot more work to do. But the dog is a start. Hopefully it can be with her for many years to come and will help to make certain parts of her life easier and more comfortable for her. And for Myffy as well, who is also doing awesome in school and in therapy, but who is also showing very real and definite signs of being affected by autism.
So with this in mind we have decided to start our fundraising campaign. From now on all sales of our music in physical or digital form will go towards the purchase of the autism dog. Physical copies of records and cds available directly from us can be found at http://indiepages.com/boyracer/mailorder.html. We have drastically reduced the price of many of these physical copy cds, some as cheap as just a couple of dollars so it's cheap and easy to stuff the stocking of any indie-loving loved one. Digital versions of most of the cds we have made over the years as Boyracer, Jen Turrell, Steward, Mytty Archer, Tricia Yates Fan Club, Possum Moods, Grey Tapes, Fog and Ocean and the rest can be found on iTunes but Stew has also made some great bandcamp sites with rarities to download directly from us at: http://boyracer.bandcamp.com/ If you want to donate to the dog besides getting music, you can do so through the Let Me Hear Your Voice song link on the Boyracer bandcamp site. It has a choose your own price tab. Anything from $1-$10,000 will be gratefully accepted. I'm just kidding about the $10,000. No single person should ever actually contribute that much. Below is a photo of Lu from August of 2008, a few months before she began to regress into autism. Get a load of those great big dreamy eyes.
Stew has also made a Milk and Alcohol bandcamp website for more recent releases at: http://milkandalcohol.bandcamp.com/
And over the course of the next year Stew will be putting up all the out of print 555 singles at http://555recs.bandcamp.com Right now there are only a few up there but if you check back from time to time we will eventually get all 50+ singles up there as he finds all of the master tapes/discs/reels.
Sorry to do so much promoting of our websites and music here, but we have to do all we can to get the dog, so I am also planning to relaunch my www.babyracer.etsy.com store in the new year. I have decided that rather than giving away the kids outgrown clothes (some of which only get worn once or twice before they grow out of them) I'm going to upcycle the best stuff with silk screening, embroidery and applique. I have so missed being crafty and can now get crafty for a cause.
So please, if you have the time, money and inclination, please check out some of these websites to help us get the dog for our girls. Every penny you spend will go to a very good cause. We appreciate every penny and every positive thought.