Parents raise funds to get autism service dog for son

Service dogsShropshire, England — The parents of a five-year-old child who suffers from autism-like symptoms are doing everything they can to raise enough funds to get him his very own autism support dog.

Oliver Fenner was a happy toddler who used to love pirates, playing with his older sister, shouting “love you” to his parents, but that slowly changed until he became almost completely withdrawn from the world.

Oliver was later on diagnosed with hypermobility as well as sensory processing disorder, a condition believed to be an onset of autism spectrum disorder. His mother, Kate, recalls that at 20 months questions were raised over his development:

“He seemed to have some autistic traits but there was nothing too specific. Then he developed a few more traits such as hand slapping or rocking. But there was nothing massively wrong. He would give eye contact and would interact with us.”

Things took a turn for the worse last year. Oliver started feeling really scared, he became easily anxious, and he started hallucinating. According to Kate:

“He finds going into the world really, really scary. He gets anxious and starts to hallucinate. We seem to be losing him week to week. It is incredibly hard to watch. He has significant learning difficulties and interaction and communication problems.

“What this means to him is that the world around him has become a very scary and difficult place to be for him.”

Kate and her husband, Jon, has been doing fundraisers in hopes of raising enough money to get Oliver a service autism dog, which, they’re hopeful, will be able to make things better for their son— because despite Oliver’s gradual withdrawal from the real world, he was able to maintain a close relationship with his nanny’s dog, Hetty.

Oliver’s parents have been organizing different fundraising activities including car boot sales, bag packing, and auctions in an attempt to raise £5,500 for his service dog which they hope to get through Assistant Dogs Europe. In another fundraiser, his sister, Amy, who is visually-impaired, will attempt to climb at the Kendal Wall, which is the biggest indoor climbing facility in the UK.

Individuals and organizations who wish to help Oliver get his very own autism service dog may donate through his mom’s Just Giving page at

Source: Shropshire Star: Parents hope autism support dog will comfort ‘scared’ son who has forgotten to laugh