MONTVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A two-year-old boy from New Jersey living with autism has a special need, and his mother says only man’s best friend can help him cope.
He needs an expensive service dog to keep him safe.
Little Joey Stanley is obsessed with vacuums, and even took one with him for his Christmas picture with Santa. The happy Montville toddler is on the autism spectrum and just started talking, but sometimes it isn’t that easy.
“When he gets upset or he can’t communicate or he gets overstimulated, he wants to bang his head, bang his chin,” his mom, Faith, told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner. “We have a constant bruising and under the chin.”
He’s considered a “banger.” and has to wear a $200 helmet for safety.
“What we would think would be very painful he doesn’t feel at all at times,” Faith said.
To help, Joey’s doctor recommended a service dog.
“A service dog can be trained to alert when that happens and stop that behavior before it starts,” Faith said. “When he is having a meltdown, if you mention doggies or a dog is walking by, which we’ve had many times, he would stop what he’s doing and go greet the dog and be very calm.”
Joey even carries around a toy dog named Bounce, but Faith says he can’t just have any dog since he’s so sensitive to loud noises such as barking. Instead, she says, he needs a service dog.
“When he starts banging or he’s screaming or he has one of his meltdowns the dog can’t run and hide,” Faith said. “It won’t work.”
A non-profit she’s been in touch with told her a service dog costs $35,000. She says she needs to raise $17,000. Insurance companies CBS2 reached out to said they do not cover the costs of a service dog, which means Faith needs to reach out to the community for help.
Andrea Vergona owns Time to Consign and has known Faith for almost three years. She also has a background in autism.
“My husband and I, we donated some money to help her out,” Vergona said. “Anything we could do to help, wish I could do more.”
The single mom of four cleans for a living, but her income only covers the cost of rent and medical bills, so she started a GoFundMe page.
“With a special needs child, you can’t sometimes fix it,” Faith said. “You can’t fix autism. I want him to feel better and get the help that he needs. That’s what every parent wants.”
For more on how you can help Faith and Joey, CLICK HERE.