KOLORA’S Ben Stewart is looking for a new friend of the canine variety.
The 11 year-old Hampden Specialist School student is currently suffering from uncontrolled epilepsy.
A recent development, the diagnosis of generalised epilepsy disorder adds on to his existing motor skill delays, autism, speech delays and intellectual disability.
The family is seeking $20,000 to cover the cost of the training program, as well as purchasing, feeding and caring for the dog, with Smart Pups contributing about $6000.
His mother Kylie said the dog will be able to predict an impending seizure and calm him accordingly during and after an episode.
“They train them (the dogs) to pick up on his breathing and concentration levels,” she said.
The support dogs often nuzzle a cheek or kiss to provide assistance.
Mrs Stewart said she and her husband Andrew will be required to become accredited parts of the Smart Pups program.
“It will probably take about 12 months to train the dog,” she said.
Ben said he is “excited” to meet his new friend, which will likely be either a Labrador or Golden Retriever.
He experiences a number of focal seizures throughout the day and regular tonic clonic seizures at night, as well as at least six absence seizures every hour – up to 200 a day.
Mrs Stewart said absence seizures often seem like Ben is staring, while the more severe seizures can cause his lips to quiver or a slight sway in his walking pattern.
“It can be very frustrating for him,” she said.
Ben already enjoys the comfort of his cousin’s therapy dog in Warrnambool.
Terang College’s Student Representative Council is also supporting the drive for Ben, with a ‘Blue for Ben’ fundraiser this Friday (tomorrow).
Students are encouraged to dress in blue clothes, as blue is Ben’s favourite colour, and support a barbecue with all proceeds going towards the cause.
Mrs Stewart said a number of people and clubs are reaching out to support Ben’s cause, including Hampden Specialist School.
For more information or to directly donate to the ‘Ben’s Best Buddy’ cause, visit www.mycause.com.au/page/196605/bens-best-buddy.