GOSHEN — Like many 9-year-olds, Tyler Kidder of Goshen enjoys playing with Lego pieces, watching “Tom and Jerry” and picking on his younger brother. His playing time, though, can be interrupted by his bouts of extreme anger, name-calling and emotional meltdowns.
Tannen and Kendra Kidder adopted Tyler when he was 3 1/2 years old. When Tyler was 6, the Kidders had him genetically tested and learned that he had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and a duplication in a chromosome the Kidders said doctors don’t know much about.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, is caused by a mother consuming alcohol while pregnant and can result in hyperactivity, poor coordination, poor reasoning skills and speech delays, among other physical, behavioral and learning issues, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s very hard,” Kendra Kidder said. “You don’t always know what does he understand, what doesn’t he understand... You get holes in the wall from fits, but it’s like I said, our house is lived in.”
The Kidders are raising money for a specially trained service dog they hope will help Tyler.
The family is working with 4 Paws for Ability, an agency that doesn’t require a minimum age for patients to have a dog. According to 4 Paws’ website, a specially trained dog can help calm and focus children with FASD.
It costs 4 Paws $22,000 to train and place a dog. The organization asks families to raise $13,000 of that, which the Kidders are trying to do.
The Kidders learned about 4 Paws through the Hines family of Dunlap.
Lottie and Todd Hines adopted their son, Coty, at birth. His biological mother had consumed drugs and alcohol while pregnant, so Coty, now 12 years old, was born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and addicted to cocaine and marijuana, Lottie Hines explained.
Some of the effects may seem like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), except that no medicines can completely help.
“This is permanent brain damage,” Hines said.
Some of Coty’s behaviors have been similar to Tyler Kidder’s, but Wisp, a Golden Retriever through 4 Paws, has helped some of that.
“It’s been amazing,” Lottie Hines said.
Wisp joined the Hines family about nine months ago. She is able to anticipate Coty’s disruptive behaviors and can use her 75-pound body weight to lay with him and keep him calm when Coty becomes overstimulated or agitated. Lottie Hines described Coty as being like “Jekyll and Hyde” emotionally, going from very happy to very angry in an instant.
Coty also has tremors when asleep, especially after a bad day, his mother explained. Wisp sleeps by him, though, which helps him during the night, and then helps wake him in the morning. She also provides company for Coty.
“He doesn’t like to be alone ever, ever,” Lottie Hines said.
Hines noted that while Wisp knows she’s there to help Coty, the dog also knows that it’s Lottie and Todd Hines who are in charge. They’re able to give her commands when they need help calming Coty, for example.
Wisp doesn’t currently go to school with Coty and the Kidders said too that if they’re able to get a dog for Tyler, it won’t go to school with him. Tyler, they said, is doing very well working with an aide and a helpful teacher at Middlebury Elementary.
Once the Kidders raise the money, Tyler and his parents will attend a training at 4 Paws in Ohio where the dog will be trained to work especially with Tyler’s behaviors.
“He has improved immensely,” Kendra Kidder said about Tyler’s behaviors, “but it’s just an everyday challenge.”
Donations can be sent through www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/kendrakidder/4PawsServiceDogForTylerKidder or 4pawsforability.org/make-a-dream-come-true/#TylerKidder. People can also send checks to 4 Paws For Ability, 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, Ohio 45385. Checks should be sent with a note that it’s for Tyler Kidder and not a general donation.