Service dog for Lillian - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Service dog for Lillian

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

Six-year-old Lillian Luensmann loves barbies and drawing pictures. But Lillian isn't at the same social development as other children her age.

"A week before she turned six, she was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, which there's two schools of thought. Either PDD is a form of autism or autism fall into PDD. Either way, it has a lot of similar traits to autism," said Katie Newman.

Mom Katie Newman said Lillian is often withdrawn in social situations.

"She has what's called an expressive speech and language disorder. So she doesn't speak like a normal six-year-old. She only knows one way to say things. She gets frustrated when she's not communicating the way others understand. And she has a real adversity to change," said Newman.

If a change occurs, such as a substitute teacher, Newman said Lilly throws tantrums and often hides.

To help counteract Lilly's anxiety, Newman wants to get her daughter an autism service dog.

"If something as simple as a canine companion she can take everywhere can reduce her stress and help her function at a quote on quote 'normal' level, that's something I want to do as early an age as possible," said Newman.

Newman is working with Highland Canine Training out of North Carolina. The cost of a service dog is $8900 plus the travel fees of trainers to work with the family once the dog arrives.

The family has already raised about 25 percent of the total cost and hopes to get donations to help with the rest. The average wait time for getting a dog is 14 months. Until then, Lillian is content with coloring.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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