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Franklin boy with autism raising money for a service dog

NOW: Franklin boy with autism raising money for a service dog

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FRANKLIN, Wis. (CBS 58)- A 9-year-old Franklin boy with autism has been approved for a service dog that would help him do better in school and at home, but before he’s able to get one, he’ll need the community’s help.

Matthew Viglione is your typical happy 9-year-old boy, but he was diagnosed with autism, ADHD, obsessive behaviors and developmental delay at the age of three. At times he’s had to do 40 hours of therapy a week. 

His parents say it’s been a hard year, but through it all Matthew has remained positive.

”He struggles, he still can’t read or write, but he can talk and he’s really positive about it and he goes ‘at least I can talk mom’ and I’m like, that’s so true,” said Sarah Viglione, Matthew’s mother.  

Matthew loves Legos and is always there to help people.

“If we’re at a picnic or something he wants to be there by the food helping serve. He wants to be the kid that’s there for his friends or for his brother, that’s what I really love about his personality,” said Matthew’s father, Michael Viglione.

“He loves Legos and he can literally build anything from his memory,” said Sarah.

Matthew is in special education at school, but still can’t seem to catch up, because when he gets overwhelmed with bright lights, loud noises or crowds he can have a meltdown. The meltdowns sometimes go for hours.

“That could involve hitting or biting, throwing himself down, and not being able to tell us, you know, what’s going on with him,” adds Sarah.

“You see other kids kind of excelling past him in his age group, so it’s a little bit hard that way to see that he is kind of falling behind, but we try to stay positive about it,” says Michael.

After Sarah shared her story with one of her neighbors, they suggested Matthew get a service dog.

A service dog can cost up to $60,000 but through ‘4 Paws For Ability,’ the Viglione family only has to raise $17,000.  

“As an adult it’s our habit to try to ask, what’s wrong? What’s wrong? What can we do to help you? Sometimes you don’t want that,” said Michael. “The dog will just be there.”

Some kids on the autism spectrum, like Matthew, do have the tendency to run, but Matthew’s service dog would be trained to anchor him down by laying on him. If Matthew runs away the dog would be able to track him down.

The service dog would also be able to distract Matthew and stop or prevent a meltdown.

“He’s done occupational therapy and speech therapy and you know, anything that we can help him with to give him the most success in life, that’s all we want for him,” said Sarah.

Once the money is raised, ‘4 Paws For Ability’ will start training Matthew’s dog, which takes two years.  

If you’d like to help Matthew reach his goal of earning a service dog, click here.

You can also donate directly to 4 Paws For Ability by MAILING or CALLING:
4 Paws for Ability
207 Dayton Ave
Xenia, OH 45385

(937) 374-0385

Be sure to write “Matthew Viglione” on the check memo line so that the donation gets credited towards the fee for his dog.

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