When Holly Allen’s son Finn was born at home in Mission, he was a typical, happy baby. However, when he was between 12 and 18 months old, she began to suspect something was wrong.
Finn wasn’t acting like other children his age. He wasn’t doing the typical things that babies do, like clapping or waving or saying mama.
He also liked to be upside-down, trying to do handstands – anything to be inverted.
“There’s just little things that led me to think about how he was developing,” said Allen, a lifelong Mission resident.
When Finn turned two and still wasn’t speaking, Allen sought out speech assessment for her son.
The therapist saw a lot of red flags for Autism so Allen took Finn to a private clinic to be assessed.
On May 23, 2019, he was diagnosed with autism.
Allen said she knew deep down that Finn had autism because all the signs were so classically presented and there were so many signs that it was undeniable. Still, when she received the report and the diagnosis, it was overwhelming.
“When you hear that, as a parent, you are hoping in your heart that it isn’t true, but when you actually hear it and see it in the report, it’s devastating. You have so many hopes and dreams and now the future is so unknown.”
Finn is on the severe end of the autism spectrum. He also has sensory processing disorder, is low-functioning and has low muscle tone. He is also classified as non-verbal.
“He needs 24/7, one-on-one care right now so he’s a very high-needs child. It’s been quite the journey.”
The recent COVID-19 outbreak has made it even harder for Allen as it is difficult to get therapy for Finn at this time.
“It’s just been really hard. We don’t sleep, we’re constantly under stress, but gosh we love him and we’re learning so much from him and he’s such an amazing little guy that it just breaks my heart sometimes when he has those bad days.”
Currently, Allen is attempting to get an autism service dog for Finn.
“We really think it will help Finn have a better quality of life.”
Autism service dogs are trained for the individual owner and provide comfort and companionship. In Finn’s case, a service dog could help calm him after a tantrum and allow him to sleep better. It would also allow him to have a better experience when he goes to school, and, as he gets older, it will help teach him independence and responsibility.
Finn is also “a runner” and a flight risk. The dog can help stop him from dashing off or find him if he goes missing.
“Our house is like Fort Knox right now,” explained Allen, as doors and windows all have locks to prevent Finn from leaving unexpectedly.
While a service dog will help, they are extremely expensive. The average cost is about $25,000.
Allen has been fundraising for the past two months and, to date, has raised about half the money needed for the service dog.
She currently has an active fundraiser taking place on Facebook.
“It’s an online square-board fundraiser.”
The public can purchase a numbered square for $10 each and if the number on their square is chosen, they win donated prizes.
People can buy as many squares as they want and e-transfer the money. Once the squares are all purchased, winners will be announced.
Allen said there are plenty of squares left to buy and she’s still looking for more prize donations.
If you want to donate, but don’t want to play the square game, there is a GoFundMe page as well.
For information, search for “Loving Finn” on Facebook or visit: