Amanda and Cessco
Hello Elisa: Amanda is 19 years old and a Grade 12 student at St. Albert Catholic High School in a special program for learning disabled students. Amanda has Prader Willis Syndrome and severe global developmental delay. Amanda will always need support and will never be able to live independently. Despite her disabilities, Amanda is a very social and happy person who is a joy to be around.
Amanda tries hard and has a maternal streak to her, and now thankfully she has a new best friend, Cesso, who helps her travel safely in the community and gives her a sense of accomplishment and responsibility. She is responsible for her “baby” Cesso, feeding, cleaning and exercising. They sleep together in her bed, he goes to school with her every day and comes with her to her many Special Olympic events. Amanda likes to be complimented on what great care she gives to Cessco. When she is feeling lonely or confused, they curl up together while Amanda tries to get control of her emotions. In only three months these two have bonded completely. Cessco will go “find Amanda” and if he thinks she is in distress, he runs quickly to help her. There are a whole lot of hugs and kisses shared between these two throughout the day.
Amanda has suffered from separation anxiety for the last 10 years. She has panic attacks when separated from her parents or is in unfamiliar circumstances. Her doctor supported the placement of a service dog to help her deal with this disorder. The idea was that eventually Amanda will transfer her need to be with a family member, to her dog, and begin to consider doing things more independently.This will prepare her for the eventuality of placement in a group home when her parents are no longer able to care for her. We have already seen considerable gains in this area, all owed to the love she has for Cessco. Amanda is now willing to stay home for short periods of time, not alone of course because she has her Cessco keeping watch over her! She is talking about staying overnight with relatives and close family friends because now she will be bringing Cessco with her. This is an amazing milestone for her and has given our family comfort and some respite time for ourselves.
Our family can’t express in words what a difference Cessco has made in our daughter’s life and how fortunate we are to have been placed with a dog like Cessco, who is really nothing short of perfect. In particular, we appreciate the generosity of others who support Dogs with Wings financially and volunteer their time to foster the dogs. All of these people can go to sleep at night, knowing they have made a difference in the life of a person with a disability and the family that supports them.