Specialist seizure response assistance dog Stanley is making a real difference to the life of 24-year- old Amy Williams, who has epilepsy.
Thanks to the constant support of black Labrador Stanley, Amy Williams now has her life back, and can look forward to a happier future. Four-year- old Stanley graduated last year as Amy’s seizure response dog, provided and trained by Support Dogs.
Amy, from Gloucester, explains: “My epilepsy started after I had chickenpox encephalitis as a young child. I now have something called startle epilepsy. This means that when I am surprised or startled by a loud noise or sound I can have an epileptic seizure. This can happen two or three times a day and sometimes at night. Since I left school I became rather isolated because there are no community based services suited to my condition.”
The condition meant that her family were extremely anxious about her safety both during the day and night and Amy always needed someone by her side. Amy says: “It got to the point where I was even scared to sleep in my own bed in case I had a seizure in the night and choked or was seriously injured.
“After being so reliant on a carer and my family, I was desperate to find a way to increase my independence. Thanks to Support Dogs, I’ve now got Stanley and he has made a huge difference. I feel safer, I am more confident and I now feel much more able to get out of the house.”
Whenever Amy now has a seizure, day or night, Stanley is trained to pull an alarm to call for help. He is 100% reliable and never misses a seizure. Stanley has also been trained to help reduce the number of seizures Amy has. For example he has been trained to alert Amy when people are calling at her home; this prevents them knocking loudly on the door and potentially triggering a seizure. Having Stanley also means Amy is able to have her mobile phone on loud. Previously she would have to have it on silent because the sudden sound could cause a seizure.
Amy, who also uses a wheelchair and has limited mobility, also benefits from the support that Stanley gives her with day to day practical tasks. Amy explains: “He’s been trained to pick up things for me when I drop them, help me with getting dressed, open drawers and doors, and fetch the phone.
“He has helped me so much. He has given me the confidence to get out of my wheelchair and walk more, knowing if I fall he is there to help me back up."
“In Stanley, I have a support dog that will alert my parents or my carer when I am having a seizure, but he also helps with many other aspects of my life. He is not just a life changer, but potentially a life saver. Life is so much better now I have Stanley with me.”