Service dog needed for local girl with Down syndrome, autism


    A local 9-year-old girl with Down syndrome and autism is in need of a therapy dog. (WKRC)

    CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Kathryn Ferrara is non-verbal, but she doesn't need words to let you know she's happy: A smile, a clap when she knows she's doing a great speech job in therapy and her laugh will warm your heart.

    Her mother, Kathleen Ferrara, said, "Every day she does something that amazes me. She's learning how to use a TouchChat iPad. It's a program for the iPad."

    The 9-year-old hasn't had the easiest road. She was born with Down syndrome. She had been progressing well with her development, but when she was 4 years old, Kathryn became non-verbal. The diagnosis was autism.

    Kathleen described how she felt after speaking with doctors:

    "It was worse than the diagnosis of Down syndrome because the autism is such a wide spectrum of: 'How is my daughter going to do? How is she going to have Down syndrome and autism?'"

    Kathleen is a single parent. She's a nurse who works full time and has been researching how to get Kathryn a service dog through 4 Paws for Ability to help.

    Already, her Facebook fundraiser has raised more than $7,500 dollars since she posted it Friday.

    "It's really hard for me to ask people for help. I never wanted to ask for money. I never expected to get so much money, but when you're a mom, you'd do anything for your daughter or for your child," Kathleen said.

    Like any mother, Kathleen wants the best for her daughter. Kathryn is an only child, so she relies on her mom and grandmother. Kathleen is determined to give her daughter the happiest life possible.

    "She's just a complete angel. She's taught me more about life than I could ever teach her. She's made me a better person," Kathleen said. "I would do anything to make her life normal and happy and, in the end, I just want her to be happy."

    If you would like to help with the fundraiser, click here.

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