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  • Northside East

Appeal launched to help local girl

Tuesday, 18th February, 2020 8:00am
Appeal launched to help local girl

Lily May Dennison

Appeal launched to help local girl

Lily May Dennison

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Jennifer Keegan

THE family of a local girl who has severe autism and accompanying language disorder is looking for donations to get an assistance dog for her needs. 

The parents of Lily May Dennison (5), Emma and Wayne Dennison, from Artane, are looking to get her an assistance dog which would greatly improve Lily May’s quality of life and that of her family. They have started a GoFundMe page for people wishing to donate. 

Lily May struggles with her autism every day. She is especially vulnerable to loud noises and crowded places which can trigger ‘meltdowns’. 

According to Ms Dennison, leaving the house can be difficult, especially when she has her other children with her.

“Cars are no problem, but if it’s a motorbike or helicopter, even if she has her ear defenders on, she will sit on the ground and she won’t get back up,’ said Ms Dennison. 

In the past, Lily May has even darted out onto the road if she gets a fright. One day Lily May was so badly affected by the noise of a passing motorbike that she was unable to move for half an hour. The family have had to stop outings such as going to the Zoo, for fear that Lily May will be triggered. 

These ‘meltdowns’ are not only tough on Lily May but on her family, too. She has three siblings, Ryan (13), Ally (7) and Louis (1). Ms Dennison said “people look at you as if to say, she’s letting her child run wild when it really isn’t what’s happening at all”.

Lily May also has very bad balance and can fall up to 15 times a day. She often wakes up at night and has panic attacks, thinking that she is alone which can lead to waking her sister who shares a room with her and often the rest of the family as well.

“Sometimes she’s kept us awake so late that I’ve had to keep them [the children] off school,” said Ms Dennison.

Lily May’s family believes that having an assistance dog would help her in every area of her life. Not only does Lily May adore dogs, an assistance dog would be able to keep her calm at night when she wakes up and thinks she is alone, will stop her from losing her balance and falling, and will also calm her down, should she become overwhelmed by her surroundings. The dog could go with her to parks and shops that could otherwise cause Lily May upset.  

The dog would also help people on the outside understand that there is more to her ‘meltdowns’ when she becomes upset in public and that it could make people more willing to help with the situation.

As Lily May struggles with hospitals and doctors’ appointments due to crowds and a fear of needles, an assistance dog would be able to accompany her to these appointments and keep her calm and feeling safe. 

Assistance dogs are extremely expensive, costing between €18,000 and €22,000 privately. There are charities that give these dogs for free but for the family to become eligible they have to raise a large amount of funds before they can receive a fully trained dog. 

The family have received lots of support for their cause. Easilocks, a hairdressers in Blanchardstown, ran a competition until Valentine’s Day to raise money. The family themselves are currently holding a competition for a Michael Kors bag through the GoFundMe page.

If anyone wishes to donate to Lily May, the page can be found at

An appeal has been launched to help Lily May.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here