Friends and Neighbors

Logan Earle: Needs 24/7 'best friend'

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Logan Earle had a rough start to his life. He was born with lead poisoning and doctors believe his birth mother used a drug called ice which is said to be the purest and most potent form of methamphetamine.

Despite his condition Shondi Earle fell in love with this tough little guy and adopted him to be her son. With much determination and even more love, these two set out to take on the world that was before them. It has not been easy and in some ways gets more difficult every day.

Shondi and Logan lived in Carrollton before moving back home to Whitehouse. She found it difficult to find the medical and psychiatric help she needed for her little boy. She was very unhappy with the school when she went to enroll him they told her he didn’t have to come to Kindergarten. It wasn’t mandatory.

“Well it doesn’t matter,” she said. “He’s coming. He has a right to go to school like everyone else.”

Logan was not diagnosed until he was seven and they had moved to Whitehouse. Shondi took him to see Dr. Ndukwe Uduma, MD, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at ETMC Behavioral Center. Doctors had been medicating his behaviors and not getting to the root. After that first meeting with Dr. Uduma, he sent us to have him tested for Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger Syndrome (AS) is described as an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and part of a unique group of neurodevelopment disorders, all complex. Those affected by it suffer social impairment, difficulty with communications, and often restrictive, repetitive and stereotyped behavioral patterns.

“Once we had that diagnosis so many doors opened and explained some of his symptoms like the texture issues and social behavior,” Shondi said. “There’s not a book for this. It has been a struggle.”

He walked at an early age but walks and runs everywhere on his toes.

“We’ve tried everything to get him to walk on his feet, nothing works,” Shondi said. “His anxiety is so bad he has stomach ulcers. He is very thin, can’t get him over 60 pounds.”

Logan turned 10 in January and goes to school at Cain Elementary in Whitehouse. He is in his regular classroom most of the time but does go to resource for additional help.

“The school here has just been wonderful,” Shondi said. “I can’t say enough about how helpful and supportive they have been. They truly love Logan and want to help in any way they can.”

Even normal daily tasks are a challenge for Logan.

“His motor skills have been affected a lot,” Shondi said. “He cannot tie his shoes. He can’t wear blue jeans because he can’t do the button or the snaps. His social skills have even declined more so this year. His teachers say they see more of the autism issues this year than last.”

He says that the kids at school tell him that he talks too much but he has made a couple of good friends who just know how he is.

“He is now wearing his winter coat to school and he leaves the hood up,” Shondi said. “It’s like he’s trying to hide.”

It was that withdrawal that sent Shondi to do some research on service dogs and their use with people who are living with Asperger’s, Autism and even ADHD.

“A service dog would be a constant companion for Logan,” she said. “He loves animals but he doesn’t understand that when he has a meltdown or goes into sensory overload he just gets so loud he scares the animals.”

Her search took her to Canines 4 Hope.

“The lady I talked with knew exactly what I was talking about,” Shondi said. “It was so good to talk to someone who knew what we were dealing with and had many answers for me.”

According to Canines 4 Hope dogs have been proven to be an asset for children diagnosed with autism and their family. Autism Service Dogs can provide a social bridge for children who are often secluded by others because of their behavior or lack of social interaction. A well-trained Autism Service Dog can also provide comfort as well as calm children who suffer from anxiety.

These words were like answered prayer to Shondi. Only one thing stands in their way – the cost. The cost of the trained dog is approximately $13,000. Because the training center is based in Florida, Shondi and Logan would have to make multiple trips there during the training process. That would get expensive too.

Shondi is reaching out to organizations, foundations, businesses and the community for help to bring a 24/7 best friend to Logan’s life.

If you can help, visit Logan’s You Caring site at https://www.youcaring.com/search/go?w=Logan%20Earle .

“I haven’t said anything to Logan yet because I don’t want to get his hopes up,” Shondi said. “If it will help me keep him off of any more medication I’ll do everything I can. He has fought every day of his life and he needs some peace.”

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