BUCYRUS — A Colonel Crawford teacher is asking for help to get a service dog for her son.
Eastin Rothhaar, 9, loves to attend classes at Wynford Elementary School, but sometimes it is hard for him to stay in his classroom throughout the entire day.
Eastin was placed on the autism spectrum about a year ago and suffers from anxiety, especially in social situations, such as school.
“We adopted Eastin from a Red Cross orphanage in Vietnam when he was six and a half months old. I knew right away that he had some delays, but was praying he would catch up. We went through in-depth testing for him and his doctors informed us that he was on the autism spectrum,” said Eastin’s mom, Sarah Rothhaar.
Rothhaar is a teacher at Colonel Crawford Intermediate School and a divorced, single mom of three other children, 12-year-old Ellayna, 9-year-old KeKe and 15-year-old Wyatt.
After Eastin’s diagnosis, Rothhaar has done everything she can to ensure that he has everything he needs to be healthy and successful.
“We have always worked hard to get Eastin what he needed including therapists, doctors, medications and a full-time aid to help him in the classroom,” Rothhaar said.
Eastin has continued to struggle with social anxiety, having meltdowns when he thinks things are not perfect or the way he thinks they should be.
“He is a perfectionist and if something is not working the way he wants, he has a major meltdown. Many times, someone has had to pick him up from school before the end of the school day. We want to do whatever we can to make life easier for him and to help him stay at school for the duration of the day,” Rothhaar said.
Rothhaar recently compiled research on service dogs for children on the autism spectrum.
“I then talked with Eastin’s doctors and therapist and they all agreed that a service dog would help Eastin immensely,” Rothhaar said.
Last spring, Rothhaar contacted the most highly recommended facility that trains service dog specifically for the person they will be matched with.
“It just happens to be in Ohio. It is called 4 Paws for Ability in Xenia,” said Rothhaar.
4 Paws is the first agency in the United States to begin placing highly skilled Autism Assistance Dogs, along with tracking skills.
“The tracking skills are also something Eastin needs. He has tried to run off before and if this happens after he has a service dog, the dog will follow him and ensure he is safe until we can get to him,” said Rothhaar.
The price tag for service dog is $22,000 with a minimum requirement of $15,000.
“Once the $15,000 is paid, they begin training a dog just for Eastin and his needs,” Rothhaar said.
Rothhaar said the dog will go to school each day with Eastin to help him remain calm and avoid meltdowns during his classes.
“I am not one to ask for help, but in the case, I have no choice,” said Rothhaar. “I feel that this is the answer we have been searching for to help Eastin and I am determined to raise the money for his dog.”
Rothhaar’s students and fellow staff members at Colonel Crawford held a fundraiser at the end of last school year to help offset the cost for the dog.
“Between that, my own money and donations, I have raised $6,130 of the cost for the service dog,” said Rothhaar.
Rothhaar sent letters to local organizations and individuals to help raise the remaining balance of the funds needed to purchase the dog.
“4 Paws for Ability is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization so all donations will be tax deductible,” Rothhaar said.
Donations are sent directly to 4 Paws for Ability in honor of Eastin Rothhaar, 253, Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio, 45385, or online at www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/eastin-rothhaar/servicedog.
For more information about 4 Paws for Ability, visit http://4pawsforability.org.
Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras