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Family ask for support

HELP NEEDED: Vanessa McPherson with her son Fergus who has autism and is in need of an assistance dog.
HELP NEEDED: Vanessa McPherson with her son Fergus who has autism and is in need of an assistance dog.

EVERY child wishes for a puppy.

But four-year-old Fergus McPherson desperately needs one.

Having been diagnosed with autism in July last year, a specially trained dog could help improve the child's day-to-day activities.

So when his mother Vanessa McPherson heard about Smart Pups, an assistance dogs program for children with autism, she decided to apply.

The only problem now is finance.

To purchase the dog for Fergus, his family must pay a total of $10,000 - a sum they simply don't have.

The McPhersons are now seeking community donations.

"Doing simple tasks with Fergus can take some time," Mrs McPherson said.

"Fergus has sensory issues which is why he is on a very limited and restricted diet, because there are a lot of things he won't eat because of the colour, the texture or the smell.

"He also isn't a very good sleeper and sometimes it can take more than two hours to get him down.

"But even just day to day tasks like toilet training and doing up his shoelaces are taking longer than usual."

In the same way guide dogs assist people, assistance dogs are trained to guide a child suffering with autism through their daily routines.

The dogs have also proven helpful in lowering a child's stress level.

Mrs McPherson said the assistance dog would help Fergus learn to be more independent.

"We have asked for a dog for Fergus who will interrupt some of his repetitive behaviours," she said.

"The dog will sense when Fergus is upset or frustrated, and will place its head in his lap to calm him down.

"But we also hope the dog will be able to help Fergus get to sleep and stay asleep.

"We have also asked for a dog which will be trained in tracking, so if Fergus does get away from the dog and disappears, the dog will be able to find him."

In a bid to help, Mrs McPherson's sister Tory Jackson will be selling discounted stationery office supplies to businesses in Logan, with proceeds going to Smart Pups.

"I was thinking of how I could help raise money for my sister, and the only avenue I could think of was through my work in stationery," Mrs Jackson said.

"I have got small stationery items for home offices and university students and larger equipment like shredders, laminators, desks and filing cabinets for large businesses.

"People who will be buying these items will directly be helping Vanessa, Fergus and the puppy.

"I have it easy, so I am more than happy to help out my sister because she is the one that has a long term commitment to her son to get him through the normal stream of life."

If you would like to make a donation email tory.darrin@gmail.com.


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