Η ιστορία της Μάγια και του σκύλου βοηθού της Νεντ.
Maya is a 12 year old child adopted from the US foster care system in Los Angeles, CA. Her mom adopted 2 children who are not biologically related but both were exposed to alcohol as developing fetuses. Their birth mom’s suffer from drug addictions and most who face this difficulty also drink alcohol. Alcohol is a poison to the developing fetus because it crosses the placenta and the baby becomes more intoxicated than the mother because their liver is not developed well enough to filter it from their tiny body. Most of the damage happens to their brain.
Maya was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome at age 8. Maya has the classic facial features of FAS and she also has an intellectual disability (mental retardation). Some of the ways FAS has affected Maya:
-She has significant anxiety and is afraid to be alone in her own bedroom and is unable to go into a bathroom alone
-Maya cannot sleep at all without medication, he body and mind are unable to rest
-Maya needs to attend school in a special education classroom
-Maya will never be able to live independently
-She is at high risk of sexual assault because she looks like a typical child and can talk like a typical child
-Her expressive language skills are average however her receptive language (what she is able to understand is far below average)
-Having a significantly disabled child that appears typical causes others to have expectations of Maya that are impossible for her to achieve
-Although Maya does not run off she is too anxious to leave my sight, she has many issues with safety awareness. She never remembers to look both ways before crossing the street, she does not pay attention to moving cars in a parking lot, she becomes easily distracted and misses safety queues in her environment such as moving too far into the lane of traffic, paying attention to balls being thrown near her, not holding the railing when walking up or down steps, not watching where her fingers are when slamming a car door shut, -Maya is unable to learn from mistakes. At age 5 she tried to cut a raw potato and cut her hand, just days later despite the knives being locked up she attempted to use a butter knife to cut another potato - she did not make the connection
-She does not feel hot and cold as others do, she wears the wrong clothing for the weather and I have to lock up her off-season clothes (it is a good thing we don’t live in Chicago she is not affected enough by cold), she tries to wear summer clothes when she should be wearing a sweatshirt or she will try to wear winter boots in 90 degree temperatures
-Maya overheats extremely easily in mildly warm weather, I have to watch her constantly and make her drink and seek shade from just short exposure to the sun
-Although Maya is 12 developmentally she is about 6, this causes difficulty in social situations
Since Ned has come home:
-Maya takes herself to the bathroom both at home, school and in public places because Ned goes with her. He is trained to lie down in the stall with her and his company has given her independence where she used to refuse to go which causes medical issues and abject fear. Ned is not afraid of toilet flushes or loud hand dryers. Hit patiently sits in the bathroom while Maya showers or bathes. Before she would not close the door and I had to be in view of her.
-Maya will stay in her own room at night and will even play in her room alone for short stints as long as Ned is with her. She includes him in her play and he is the best listener to her imaginary tales. Most of the time Ned follows Maya without the need of a command. he loves his girl.
-If Maya is playing with her hair to the point of it breaking it or chewing on her nails, Ned will nuzzle her hands away - behavior disruption
-Most of the time when Maya goes into meltdown mode she does not want Ned near her until recently. She is beginning to recognize when she is losing control and has now asked for him twice and both times just sitting with him (no commands just near her) has stopped the meltdowns. She is beginning to understand how he can help her which means she helps herself which is HUGE. This is an emerging skill because they have become more in tune with each other after just 6 months.
-Ned goes to school with Maya and her 1:1 aid has been trained to handle him. When we returned from training after winter break her teacher when on medical leave for the rest of the year. In the past this would have caused Maya terrible difficulty with eloping and anxiety. From return to the end of school Maya had just 1 behavioral difficulty at school. This is such a huge difference. She took the multiple substitute teachers in stride.
-Ned makes going to the doctor easier and her paediatrician and mental health physicians are amazed at the difference in Maya since Ned arrived.
-Ned is very very big (now 85 lbs) and sometimes his size can be overwhelming however he is able to handle Maya at her worst because he is not petite and delicate. His size works for her.
-Going in public with Ned is an adventure. He is a magnet for attention and gives us many opportunities to teach the public about service dogs and not to pet. We also have opportunities for maya to be social thanks to Ned when it safe and appropriate.”