Photo courtesy of Hope for Ethan Facebook page
Three-year-old Ethan Ng is much like any other toddler: he loves to play, hang with his family, run, and laugh. But living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) can sometimes make it tough to enjoy some of those things.
Ethan’s condition leaves him without a voice, which often frustrates him since he struggles to communicate in the way he’d like to. He uses gestures and vocalizations (and even some ASL signs), but also throws tantrums and loses sleep due to his voicelessness and lack of instincts. According to Margaret and Ed Ng, Ethan’s parents, he's in constant motion.
In an effort to help keep Ethan safe and at peace, the Ngs have started Hope for Ethan to raise awareness and funds about the disorder.
The New Vernon family was put on the waiting list for Ethan’s service dog, a golden retriever, just last week. With the help of local media coverage, donations from community organizations, charity sales, online fundraising and more, the family was able to raise the $25,000 necessary to get on the list. Though the Ngs are on the list, it’ll be another 8-10 months of waiting before the dog arrives. The dog will help Ethan manage his aggression, stay socially engaged and keep him from wandering off into danger. Ethan will be tethered to the dog, who’s trained to keep him out of harm's way. This means things like shopping, going out to dinner and playing will be easier on both Ethan and his always-worried (and exhausted) family.
Ethan’s dog is from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, located in Virginia. The non-profit is unique due to the customization that goes into matching dogs with prospective owners. The organization doesn’t believe in a minimum age requirement for a dog, and strongly advocates for early intervention. Of course, the well-trained service dogs aren’t cheap to care for: the Ngs are in the process of raising $10K to manage the dog’s expenses, like vet bills and pet insurance.
But to the Ng family, it’s well worth the cost: Ethan’s chances at becoming verbal will skyrocket 70% after getting a furry friend, according to a study in Psychoneuroendocrinology cited on the family's Facebook page. Ethan’s parents also believe there will be a dramatic improvement in his sleep schedule and ability to go out in public calmly and safely.
To help the Ng family, head to their GoFundMe page where you’ll be able to donate whatever you’d like, or purchase an item from their wishlist.