EDEE is an amazing little girl facing some seriously big problems. At just 2, she was diagnosed with a cluster of related issues that make every day a mountain to climb: Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), Sensory Process Disorder (SPD) and Hypermobility.
This means Edee struggles with extreme anxiety, even in her own home, and can’t be left alone, even for a minute. Her Mum can’t nip to the kitchen to pop a wash on, or even to make a drink, without Edee feeling panicked that she has been abandoned. To feel safe and stay calm, Edee needs to have one of the few people she feels safe with, always with her. This puts huge pressure on family life.
Edee is also only able to eat a very limited selection of foods, struggles to process the world around her, and finds it hard to settle down to sleep, often leaving her awake for hours every night. The exhaustion takes its toll on the entire family.
Everyday tasks that we all take for granted, like going to the loo, sleeping, and eating meals can feel so overwhelming for Edee that she shuts herself down from the world. This causes her anxiety to spiral up which can cause Edee to shut down, or creates meltdowns, that poor Edee finds very traumatic. Every day can feel like a series of ordeals, one after the other – and that’s just at home.
Life outside of the house is even more terrifying for Edee and her Mum says they are watching Edee become more alone in the world, completely dependent on her family and the few experts who have carefully gained her trust.
Despite her best and bravest efforts, the future feels daunting. Her family are desperate to open new doors for her, to help her move from simply surviving her life, to thriving in it, in her own way.
The good news is that this may be possible. Edee’s family has discovered a way to help change Edee’s life in a profound and powerful way. A way that will help her expand her horizons and feel more confident. A way that is not about drugs or complicated technical equipment, but that instead has 4 paws and a waggy tail.
It seems the creature best placed to help a child like Edee is a highly trained Autism Assistance Dog, which would not just become Edee’s trusted best friend, it would fundamentally change her life. It would offer affection, sensory input, and distraction through play – all helping to lower her anxiety and leaving her better able to cope with the world around her.
Autism Assistance Dogs have public access training, so Edee’s dog could go with her everywhere, a calm, constant presence at medical appointments, lessons or at the park. An Autism Assistance dog could help Edee manage her anxiety, build her self-confidence, and help her to have fun enjoying some of the simple joyful activities that other children are able to take for granted.
Her family has therefore been working hard to raise the £10,000 it costs to fund the dog and its extended 1 year of intensive training, to support Edee’s very specific and individual needs. Thanks to many donations from friends, family, and other well-wishers, plus a final donation of £1,000 from the Surrey Freemasons at Albert Edward Lodge in Camberley, that target has now been reached.
Edee is just a little girl trying to do her best to navigate a big and bewildering world. She has good days, and she has bad days, though hopefully her new Autism Assistance dog, once trained, will help to unlock her world.