Four-year-old Ayden Highsmith suffers from seizures, and dog would help protect him

Ayden Highsmith looks like any slightly shy 4-year-old boy.

But underneath his innocent smile, he faces a hidden challenge. Ayden has a seizure disorder.

“He was a wonderful baby and always happy,” said mother Ashlynn Highsmith, whose husband Sgt. Zachary Highsmith is a Marine based at Cherry Point.

Last fall, Ayden had his first Tonic-Clonic Seizure, also referred to as a grand-mal seizure.

At the hospital, doctors believed the seizure was a one-time occurrence until he had another one at night.

He was diagnosed, and despite a round of tests and trials with various medicines, Ayden still has an average of five small seizures and two major seizures every day.

“This is so heartbreaking as a parent to sit by and watch him seize with no way to help him,” his mother said. “Right now, Ayden has to sleep in our bedroom and can’t be alone.”

That’s why the family is attempting to get a seizure alert service dog. The estimated cost is about $4,000. The dog would be able to pick up on Ayden’s seizures, protect him from any possible falls and alert caregivers to the condition.

A fundraiser has been scheduled from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Center of the Performing Arts in Havelock, where Ayden is taking dance lessons. The event is scheduled to include live music, food and a car wash.

“We hope everybody will come out after church or their morning activities and join us,” said Mary Beth Beasley, Ayden’s dance instructor and owner of the center at 316 East Main St.

The Highsmiths have a younger son, Kaleb, who also has seizures. He also takes dance lessons, but his condition seems to be controlled with medication.

“He started with us last January and his mom had noticed that he had some problems, but they were not as intense and it was controlled with medications,” Beasley said.

Ayden’s condition appears more severe, and his mother attends the dance classes for safety in the event he has a seizure.

But Beasley said Ayden does a good job, even working on moves on his own.

“He does great,” she said. “I’ve seen a real difference after he came back this summer with his coordination.

“This is one of the things that he can participate in, an outlet. This is something that they wanted to get him in so that they could get him some normalcy.”

For more information on the fundraiser, call the Center of the Performing Arts at 349-0259.