Five-year old Stryder Doescher awaits a seizure dog to help improve his quality of life
Five-year-old Stryder Doescher is dressed up like Batman, and as he runs about the house in his cape and mask, he would appear to be like most boys his age — full of fun and energy.
Today is a good day for Stryder, however, and the youngster has faced and overcome several obstacles already in his young life. He was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was four years old at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Recently, his parents, Angela and Warren, learned that he has a rare form of epilepsy called Landua-Kleffner Syndrome (LKS), a disorder that he shares with only a few hundred people in the world.
In addition to epilepsy, Stryder also has a connective tissue disorder that makes him very hypermobile and sometimes causes him a great deal of pain. The Doeschers were encouraged to talk to other parents who have children with LKS, and they learned about seizure dogs. These highly-trained animals would be able to help notify Stryder’s parents when he is having a seizure, so they can change his medications and prevent as much brain damage as possible, as well as protecting Stryder from hurting himself. The dog would serve as a companion and caregiver in many ways.
After much research, the Doeschers decided on 4 Paws for Ability, based out of Ohio. They train service dogs for families of children with outstanding medical and developmental challenges. The dogs also serve as emotional comfort, search and rescue, social experience, and boundary control.
“The dog does behavior disruption, and also does balance work. There are some days where he hurts so bad (Stryder) he can’t hardly walk anywhere. The dog would be there with a tether to balance and walk and help him. The biggest thing is the seizure detection.”
The family now faces the challenge of raising the money to put the wheels in motion to get a trained dog, which would cost $22,000 to train and place the dog. It takes 11 months to actually train the animal. They need to raise $13,000 to get the process started.
Angela said that the first few months of Stryder’s life, nothing was abnormal.
“About three months on, he wasn’t getting on the growth charts. That kind of started it, and started some of the testing for Cystic Fibrosis and Maple Syrup Urine Disease.”
Stryder was also tested for autism. He didn’t, however, have any of these disorders. When he was two years old, Angela said they visited his 96-year-old grandmother, and she looked at him and said, ”My son almost died of a milk allergy, get him off of milk.” Angela and Warren took him off of milk and he gained weight.
“We thought whew, that was easy,” she exclaimed.
Then, when he went for his two-year appointment, his doctor asked how many words he could speak. She said that he only spoke in short syllables. He started speech therapy and early intervention in South Carolina for one year. One year later, he still wasn’t talking or gaining speech skills, and they were told that he probably wouldn’t talk. They moved to Prineville shortly thereafter, because they had family here, and they were able to get him into Larson Learning Center.
“We love South Carolina, but the community here is something --you can’t get that just anywhere.”
She said Stryder has been in Larson Learning Center since he was three, and he talks very well now.
They were referred to the Mayo Clinic for the first time in July of 2012. It was then that he was diagnosed with Landua-Kleffner Syndrome, which causes him to have silent seizures or spikes when he is sleeping. The disorder can cause him to lose language skills, and was responsible for his delayed speech. He has different kinds of seizures, and sometimes he can lose consciousness and be unable to move or speak, and other times he just appears to be daydreaming. As a result, everyday activities such as climbing, bathing, swimming, or even eating can be hazardous for him.
“Everything kind of gets moved in order of what is important,” explained Angela of the many tests. “When we were there at the Mayo it was speech first, and then we find out all this other stuff.”
She said it was at this time that they also learned that he had the connective tissue disorder. Since that time, he has undergone a series of overnight EEGs to monitor his nightly seizures and establish medication.
Despite all of these tests and conditions, Stryder remains a happy child.
“He is always happy. He is the most easy-going child you will ever meet. He will do whatever you tell him to and just kind of goes with the flow,” said Angela.
The Doeschers have found the Prineville community to be extremely generous and helpful in many ways. They love Larson Learning Center, and it has been a big part of the families’ decision to stay in the community. Approximately one year ago, the Crook County Middle School Leadership Class adopted Stryder as their Sparrow. Angela said that the class has sponsored funds, and have also provided meals for the Doescher family as many as three nights per week.
“Now it is on Wednesday, and they provide dinner every Wednesday for us. I told them, I love it,” Angela exclaimed. She said that with the many appointments each week, the dinners are a huge benefit.
“Everybody is willing to help somewhere,” she said.