The Lawrence Famiily seeks a mobility/seizure alert service dog for 2 year-old, Hiroki

Hiroki Jacob Lawrence was born on February 2nd of 2010. When he drew his first breath he weighed a mere 4 lbs and 12 oz. We soon noticed that he was not hitting the normal developmental milestones. As months passed, the discrepancy between his age and his skills widened. At one year, he was not sitting, crawling, feeding himself, or verbalizing. So we saw a geneticist and neurologist.

We formally discovered the devastating diagnosis of Phelan McDermid Syndrome in March 2011. Up until that point, we could hope that this was a passing phase. It was not to be. We visited the Phelan McDermid foundation website ( and also visited for more detailed information about the syndrome. The lay of the land for this diagnosis and the possibilities for his future: global developmental delay (he may not walk or be able to feed himself, and he probably will not talk in his lifetime), moderate to profound mental retardation, autism, hypotonia (extremely low muscle tone). We also found out that he has gray matter heterotopia which will likely mean seizures starting after age two. To this day and throughout his lifetime, Hiroki’s hypotonia affects everything: crawling, walking, swallowing, chewing, standing, grabbing, breathing. He wears braces on his lower legs to help stabilize his ankles (the tops of his feet touch his shin). He needs someone to be by him at all times for safety, but he is making steady progress and we hold onto that and the light in his eyes.

Because of daily PT, OT, and speech therapy, exciting things have been happening in 2012! He just started crawling on all fours (knees and hands). He is also beginning to walk with a walker and in early June, he took his first three steps using the walker by himself! He is beginning to feed himself and can hold onto the bowl and a therapy spoon. He can hold a sippy cup himself now. He’s beginning to communicte using a Picture Exchange System.

You cannot meet Hiroki and spend time with him and not be touched by him--his cute curly brown hair, his beautiful big eyes and long eyelasheshis love, love, love of food, his smile. And when he laughs a big, hearty, deep laugh, we are gifted and try to hold onto the sound with our memory. Despite the prison his body has become, his spirit shines through all the more brightly. He is a beautiful, amazing, miraculous gift from God.

A mobility/seizure dog for Hiroki from 4 Paws for Ability would help Hiroki be more independent. The dog would help Hiroki safely move from sit to stand and Hiroki could hold onto its harness for safe walking. This dog would help retrieve items for him from around the house.

Because of his low cognition and lack of verbal skills, Hiroki’s future could be a lonely one. This dog would act not only as a constant companion, but as a social ambassador for him. Children his age notice he's different, and the gap will only grow the older he gets. He will be starting preschool next year and the dog will help this major transition for Hiroki (and for us), including his brother Taiyo, now 10 months old.

With the possibility of seizures, this dog would help detect a seizure before it comes, to give us time to ensure Hiroki's safe when he falls. He'll have the dog there to comfort him when he comes out of the seizure. Since autism could still be a part of his diagnosis, if Hiroki is able to walk on his own one day, we are concerned about the possibility of him being able to leave the house on his own and getting lost or just wandering away while we're playing outside.

This dog will bring life-changing help to Hiroki and make a difference not only for him but also for Daniel, Misa, and Taiyo. But all of us could use your help. We are required to fundraise $13,000 in order to be eligible to receive our dog. All donations go not to us but to the nonprofit agency, 4 Paws for Ability so they can do the wonderful work they do to help people like Hiroki. All donations are tax deductible. Find the Donation page at or mail a check to 4 Paws for Ability at 253 Dayton Ave., Xenia, OH 45385. In either instance, please note that the donation is in honor of Hiroki Lawrence. You can also donate on our fundraising website at and find “A Hero for Hiroki” fundraising project.

Thank you!

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