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This fundraiser ended on 09/26/10

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This is a fundraiser to get the $5,000 required for a service dog for Molly McGrath for college to increase her independence. Molly aims to get a service dog to help with autism, specifically sensory issues

This is a fundraiser to get the $5,000 required for a service dog for me for college to increase my independence. I aim to get a service dog to help with autism, specifically sensory issues

Throughout my life, I have dealt with an autism spectrum disorder. This creates multiple issues for me in areas that involve social activity, sensory processing, and/or some motor skills. I have also loved to train dogs. So it was no surprise that a few years ago, when I was training my dog, Nala, to be a therapy dog, that I found some information on service dogs and looked into how a service dog may be able to help me.

Over that next year, I learned quite a bit. I found out that some tasks typically used for dogs trained for people with other sensory-related disabilities such as people who are blind or deaf can be applied to autism service dogs. This makes sense as when I am overwhelmed I often have more trouble than normal processing my surroundings clearly. A service dog could help me by alerting me to certain noises such as my name, beeps of timers and notifications, etc. They could also guide me out of overwhelming situations where I become overwhelmed. Even when I am calm, I often have visual-spacial issues that make it difficult to navigate my environment, something that a service dog could also help with through guide work. In addition, there are some tasks that could be used in helping me calm down such as alerting me when I begin to hyperventilate so that I may use calming techniques or providing deep pressure.

After I learned of these tasks, I became even more involved in the service dog community. I joined the website Service Dog Central and began to try to educate others about service dogs, specifically autism service dogs. Over this time, I tried to get a service dog from many sources. I had a near success a couple of years ago when I was accepted to an organization. Many of my family members donated then. However, the organization closed due to financial issues shortly before I could get a dog. Many of the donations were returned to the donors by the organization. So now I am trying again.

In college a service dog may really increase my independence. Right now, situations involving public transport and some difficult to navigate environments are quite hard for me. A service dog would allow me to get through these situations without a headache, melt down, and much anxiety. In addition, I may be able to better cope in loud family situations that involve little kids, lots of noise, and many people. The reduction in anxiety also means that I may be better able to cope with more activities on family vacation as I will not be as anxious and therefore may require less rest time. The benefits of a service dog are great.

Currently, I am working on independent living skills in preparation for college. These combined with a service dog will allow me to live completely independently. In about a year, I have a few options for programs and trainers that I may start the process with. By then, I will need $5,000 ready. This amount only covers the cost of the dog and the care that the dog receives. All training is donated.

I have been working on getting a service dog for about five years. In that time, I have helped with advocacy and education. I have also worked on technologies to help others with autism at the MIT Media Lab. In many of my endeavors, I have been working towards my goal of an independent life for myself and others on the autism spectrum. Autism service dogs are new and not well known of, but from the handlers who I have spoken with, I have learned of their potential to help people. I wish to make that potential known to others in need in addition to benefiting from it myself. My mission in life is to help others with my skills through advocacy and creating assistive technology. Please help me achieve an independent life with an autism service dog so that I may pursue my goals.

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