So kids, I do the Community Calendar stuff around here, and I certainly try to get all the events here locally on the air and on our websites.  I have recently come across a couple for one certain cause, which I thought we'd talk about more today.

It's called 4 Paws for Ability.  They train service dogs to work with children with autism.   I had known about service dogs for deaf, blind or otherwise handicapped children, but I hadn't heard about dogs for kids with autism.

From my limited understanding of a very complex condition, children with autism have trouble connecting to or understanding the world around them.  Sometimes they may engage in repetitive or destructive behavior.  Some of them may spend years - or their whole lives - not speaking or speaking in a way that doesn't communicate with their families or fellow students.   Every kid with autism has a different level of functioning, and each one works through their own level of communication.

So what these dogs do is something incredibly helpful and very specific for these kids.  Sometimes autistic kids are known for "wandering off" from places, and their parents have to put several locks on doors or windows.  You can imagine how stressful that would be for any parent.  Now imagine you're a parent with a child who doesn't respond to their name when called, or a child who doesn't understand about traffic or other dangers.

The dogs are very helpful here. They often will find the children if they get lost or help them to cross the street properly.  They are taught to respond to the parent if the parent asks them to stop - so that's a big help if the child in question isn't concentrating on outside dangers.  Or, they might be a comfort to them.  I read on their website that some kids might need them to help sleep at night or get along in school.  The dogs know what to do when a child displays his or her repetitive behaviors or if they're starting to become aggressive or upset.  They're able to help in a way that is very personal, very individualized and very meaningful to these kids and their families. These dogs are very highly trained and specifically catered to the needs of the autistic child, so they don't come cheap.

That's where we in Sedalia come in.  Owen is a little boy here in town who needs an Autistic Assistance Dog.  Some family and friends had a softball tournament to help raise money to get him one a little ways back. Now they're working with The Cutting Edge salon to raise a little more.  This time, if you get a blue streak dyed in your hair for ten dollars, that money will go to help little Owen get his dog.  Not only do you get an awesome addition to your 'do, but you get the everyday reminder that you helped out a little boy.

So why not stop by The Cutting Edge, or call them at 827-7100 and you can get this done to help Owen.  They'll be making the appointments until the November 9, so you've still got time to help.

Doggily yours,