15 year old autistic teen and family raising funds for service dog

Marisa Smith

Marisa Smith

Profiles in Brief – Help Marisa get her service dog.

15 year old Marisa Smith was only diagnosed with autism two years ago but has had serious developmental challenges since birth and the family has been raising funds for service dog.  Marisa says.

“Dealing with people is hard. They’re not exactly as understanding as animals.”

For many on the autism spectrum having a service dog makes all the difference. As reported earlier by Autism Daily Newscast, service dogs are trained to prevent children from wandering off and can attend school with them. But the cost to raise and train a service dog is $22,000. 4 Paws For Ability has a requirement that those who receive a service dog contribute the major portion of those funds. Whitney Hitt, media relations director for 4 Paws For Ability explains,

“Some dogs would shy away from a child having a meltdown. Our dogs are trained to go toward them.”

4 Paws For Ability recently informed the Smiths that a dog is available. Half the funding has been met and more will be required but there is a more pressing need for funds right now. Marisa and her family are currently raising the $2,000 needed for the travel expenses to make the trip on December 2-13, 2013 to attend training classes.

According to their GoFundMe profile:

“Marisa is very passionate and knowledgeable about animals. She mimics their sounds and they respond immediately, you would almost think they were talking to each other. During a trip to one of the area wildlife centers, she became interested in Lemurs. She has helped raise money for the Duke Lemur Center. She is quite a remarkable young lady. Marisa has endured 3 brain surgeries to correct a congenital brain deformity and has been diagnosed with Autism and has extreme sensory issues. She does not function independently and every day is a struggle for her.”

You can find out more about this project and donate at GoFundMe.com