UNION — It has been said that a boy’s best friend is his dog and that’s especially true in the case of Kyle Hudson and “Winthrop” the dog being trained to help him cope with the challenges he faces as a child with autism and other medical conditions.
Kyle, 12, is the son of Gator and Betsy Hudson who say their son needs the help that Winthrop can provide.
The Hudsons said their son has autism, a condition described by the Autism Speaks website (www.autismspeacks.org) as “a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.”
In addition to autism, the Hudsons said their son also suffers from Fragile X Syndrome which is described by the National Fragile X Foundation website (fragilex.org) as “a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges and various physical characteristics.”
The Hudsons said Kyle also suffers from Attention Deifict Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which the National Institute for Mental Health website (www.nimh.nih.gov) describes as “one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).”
Kyle and his parents have had to deal with the challenges of his condition, including his acting out when faced with sensory overload.
The Hudsons pointed out that children with autism have communication problems and, in their son’s case, a lot of sensory issues. They said that Kyle suffers sensory overloads that cause him to suffer what Betsy described as a “meltdown.” She said that when that happens, Kyle can become aggressive. In those situations, she said Kyle, normally a loving, well-mannered child, begins hitting, biting and throwing things.
Gator Hudson said these episodes are triggered by high-pitched sounds; noises that are too loud; too many noises at once; and changes in surroundings and routines.
To help mitigate and even prevent Kyle from acting out in those situations, the Hudsons have turned to “Winthrop,” a 10 month old Lab who is going to be trained as an “autism service dog.”
“The dog is trained to sense the onset of these episodes and intervene to keep the child calm,” Gator Hudson said. “The dog does this by interacting with him by nudging and pawing him. This helps him stay calm.”
The Hudsons are planning to send Winthrop to the Service Dog Institute in Simpsonville for training to be an autism service dog. The process takes at least three months and can cost up to $10,000.
To raise those funds, the Hudsons have set up a gofundme.com website. Donations can also be made to the Zachary Kyle Hudson Service Dog Fund at Park Sterling Bank or directly to the Hudsons.
On Wednesday, Gator Hudson said that approximately has already been raised.
Persons who want to make a donation or hold a fundraiser and/or are seeking more information can call Gator Hudson at 864-762-6301.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.