A few years ago, my 5 year old son Roel was diagnosed with Autism. While the diagnosis helped us to make sense of the behaviors we saw in young Roel, it still presented us with a seemingly insurmountable challenge – how were we going to cope as a family with a child that ‘suffers’ from this disorder?
Roel is now 8 and he has made wonderful progress. We don’t consider that he ‘suffers’ from Autism, rather, he behaves differently to most other kids and we need to provide him with an environment to help him to cope with the world around him.
Roel finds many things that we take for granter scary and intimidating. For example, he finds having a bath or walking into a multi-story building a stressful affair. Visa-versa, he can get so excited about riding on a train that the outing ends in a ‘meltdown’, where his ability to cope with the unfamiliar environment completely disintegrates.
We have found the support for families in our situation is limited and largely under-funded. There is little Government assistance and resources such as appropriate schooling and cognitive therapy is difficult to source.
In our search for support, we have come across an organisation that provides Assistance Dogs for children with Autism – Righteous Pups Australia. The premise of the service is to give the recipient of the dog a greater level of independence, self esteem and an overall improvement in psychological well-being and quality of life. Immediately we saw that this could make an enormous difference to Roel’s life and to our entire family (we have two other children). WHAT A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME THAT IDEA WAS!!!
This service obviously comes at a cost - $29,000 per dog to be exact. RPA,
a not-for-profit organisation,has taken up to today to get back to us after we have raised nearly $15,000. We have had one interview to determine we were a perfect family for a dog. However, it took a further 2 years for them to get
get back to us and only after an angry letter.
We had another interview to say we were the perfect family only to no hear anything from them again for nearly 2 years.
Honestly, do NOT waste your time. I hope our $15,000 has gone to help another child. Unfortunately its not our son. I've never been so disillusioned with a charity organisation as I am with Rightous Pups Australia
We have worked with our son and he's doing quite well. We will never know how much easier it would have been if we had an Assistance Dog, but we are doing well.
I just want to strongly advice people to be very careful with any donations and fund raising they do for Rightous Pups Australia. Make sure you get a contract BEFORE you hand over any funds. Do NOT get screwed the way we did. Use your precious funds raised to get a dog trained yourself. It will be cheaper, easier, and much much quicker.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped us in good faith. I'm very sorry it didn't have the end result we all hoped for.
To Rightous Pups Australia, SHAME ON YOU! We know we're not the only ones who have been screwed. We know of at least one other family. So please parents, don't be too desparate to hand over your funds. You may well be very disappointed in the results.
The Wijmans Family