Family seeks funds for autism service dog
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove resident Jason Mann looks at his son Marshall and sees joy contagious to those who are around him.
“Immediately, he’ll walk into a room and want to give people hugs and smile,” Jason said. “Like with the rest of us who are older in life, there’s no pessimism whatsoever. He’s still young and innocent.”
Marshall, a 5-year-old pre-schooler, has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He was diagnosed with it in December 2011 when he was just 36 months old.
Marshall tends to wander and bolt in parking lots, the family’s yard, even department stores. And he can have meltdowns from time to time. He does talk; however, Jason said that what Marshall speaks is scripted, practiced and, for the most part, echoed.
The ASD diagnosis was not an easy one for Mann and his wife Gretchen to hear.
“It took me a long time,” Jason said. “It probably took me at least six months to finally come to grips and accept (the diagnosis). It took awhile.”
Gretchen said that she and her husband took the “proactive approach.” They educated themselves about autism and tried to find means to help their son.
The couple is raising money to buy Marshall an autism service dog through 4 Paws For Ability, a non-profit organization that places service dogs with children who have disabilities.
The autism service dog costs $22,000. The organization raises a portion of that amount; however, the Mann family has to raise a total of $14,000.
Through fundraising for a month, the couple needs to raise about $8,000 to make the mark of getting a service dog to help Marshall. The dog will be a puppy that will be trained for a year to meet Marshall’s needs.
At that point, the dog will be there for Marshall.
The dog will be able to give Marshall a nudge, nuzzle or kiss, a deep pressure to hold Marshall down, and the ability to track him if Marshall leaves the house. Marshall could be tethered with the dog. It would also provide companionship and a means to have more social interaction with children.
Those who want to help donate can go to www.razoo.com/story/An-Autism-Service-Dog-For-Marshall. Those interested in donating can also go to www.4PawsForAbility.org/donate-now. The name “Marshall Mann” must be written in the Instructions to Merchant section.
Checks can also be written with the name “Marshall Mann” on the memo and mailed to: 4 Paws For Ability; In Honor of Marshall Mann; 253 Dayton Ave.; Xenia, Ohio 45385.
The joyful side of Marshall was on display during a recent afternoon at home. He smiled brightly; completely engaged with his eyes locked on a tablet’s matching game while sitting on his dad’s lap.
Gretchen explained what makes Marshall so special.
“He kind of gets to your heart and pulls at your heartstrings,” she said.
“I like to play with him so much,” Scarlett said. “I love my brother.”