When Bailey was born, it seemed that he was destined to live a different life. A challenged life.
From his earliest days, his doting parents – Bronwyn and Richard – knew that something was different. As Bronwyn explains: “Bailey’s brain doesn’t work the same as other kids.”
Now 13, Bailey still has no specific diagnosis. He displays a puzzling array of challenging issues, including traits from autism, extreme anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He has significant temper issues and cannot cope with change. But it’s the unpredictability of Bailey’s behaviour that causes the greatest stress for the family.
He has few friends of his own, and, until recently, the family were virtually isolated. “It’s difficult for us to go out as a family,” says Bronwyn. “We never know when Bailey will have one of his ‘episodes’, so it’s easier just to stay home.”
So complex are Bailey’s traits and special needs, he doesn’t fit into a neat diagnosis of one condition or another. The lack of diagnosis has been incredibly frustrating for the family. They have struggled to get Bailey the help he so desperately needs.
Until Demi arrived….
From the moment Bailey met Demi, his parents knew she was the answer to their prayers! “There was an immediate bond: it was instant,” recalls Bronwyn. “It was like Demi knew she was Bailey’s dog and she followed him everywhere.”
Demi, a beautiful golden Labrador, is now Bailey’s constant companion. And the change in this 13-year-old has been remarkable.
Bailey has calmed down incredibly since Demi arrived. He is more settled and his daily routine is more stable. He feeds her morning and night, makes sure her water bowl is full, he walks her and even does ‘poo patrol’.
This new routine has worked wonders for the nervous youngster. His anxiety has decreased, which has resulted in fewer outbursts. Previously, his out-of-control outbursts could last for hours, but with Demi by his side, they only last for 30 seconds.
Bailey’s dad Richard, says he cannot put into words how different the atmosphere is at home with Demi around. “Everything is just so much calmer,” Richard says, in awe.
With Demi by Bailey’s side, the family now have strategies to help manage his behaviour. If he becomes upset, they will encourage him to take Demi for a walk, or bath her. Bailey, who was never able to venture outside the house on his own, now walks to the corner shop with Demi. He greets neighbours and chats with others who are walking their dogs. He’s even made a new friend.
Family outings are becoming more frequent. They sometimes go to the beach, and Richard says that Demi is like the couple’s fifth child! “We all love her. She is part of the family.”
It is because of generous donations from the West Australian community and the support of the Think Fragile X Foundation that dogs like Demi can be placed with families like Bailey’s, changing their lives forever.
Will you donate today to help open up a world of opportunities for kids like Bailey?
Many heartfelt thanks to Alex Cearns from Houndstooth Studio for photography.