Redbourn mum fundraising for “life saving” autism dog

Riley Whitehouse with Mikey

Riley Whitehouse with Mikey - Credit: Archant

Can you help a desperate mum fund raise £9,500 for a special dog to help her autistic son, who is “tearing the family apart”?

Eight-year-old Riley Whitehouse has autism, ADHD, anxiety, and is becoming increasingly unmanageable in the Redbourn family setting.

His conditions made him aggressive, impatient, impulsive, and rude. He sometimes lashes out at his siblings, such as pushing them at the top of the stairs.

Autism Life Dogs could help Riley because they are specially trained to react to their particular owners needs and develop physical, cognitive, life and social skills.

However, the helper puppies cost £20,000, of which mum of four Shelley Whitehouse, 30, and her partner Max Whitehouse, 37, needs to contribute £9,500.

They are worried about what might happen as he gets older and stronger: “Riley’s behaviour and complications of his conditions are tearing the family apart.

“His condition means that sometimes he is physically aggressive towards his siblings and verbally aggressive and rude towards us, his parents. The noise level in my house is ridiculous.

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“He throws things, shouts, kicks, bangs walls and will take things he’s done out on his siblings during a meltdown.”

Shelley added: “We need the help now. He will play with a toddler as rough as he would play with his dad, he doesn’t realise there is a difference or how to adjust his physical strength.”

Although the family have been fundraising, including selling homemade items at Christmas fairs, she has run out of hope.

“His conditions mean that he can endanger himself and sometimes his siblings if not supervised properly. Does that make him dangerous? No, quite the opposite, he is a vulnerable child that needs care and consideration of his complex needs.”

Max and Shelley are also juggling caring for 16-month-old Mikey, who has severe allergies and is fed through a tube, six-year-old Brooke and four-year-old Skyla-Louise.

Shelley said: “Life is miserable and this dog is the only light at the end of our tunnel right now. We cannot cope. Well definitely not for much longer.”

Adding the dog “could save [Riley’s] life, quite literally”.

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