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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

Service dogs

Posted by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 4:36 PM
  • 29 Replies

Does anybody have a service dog for their ASD child? I'm not talking about therapy/companion dogs, I mean an actual service dog, the kind that can go anywhere the child goes including the cabin of airliners. I want to get one for Zach, but I'm not sure whether to get a puppy and train it myself or go through one of those organizations that trains the dog for you. I'm leaning toward training a puppy myself because the wait times from all the service dog organizations I've seen are 6+ months and they require $5000+ first. Plus, most of those center that train dogs only use labs and retreivers, which are two breeds of dog I'm not fond of. I do have experience training dogs professionally, so that won't be a problem. I'm not sure though, so I was hoping for some advice from people who've been through the service dog process.

by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 4:36 PM
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kajira
by Emma on Feb. 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM

I've had a service dog for myself since I was 18.

I train my own. I can give you some resources if you'd like, I don't use a service dog for my children, but i'm an autistic adult.

kajira
by Emma on Feb. 1, 2013 at 5:12 PM

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/how-to-train-service-dog.htm


http://psychiatricservicedogs.com/


http://www.amazon.com/HOW-TRAIN-PSYCHIATRIC-SERVICE-ebook/dp/B006LS0UJ6

http://trainyourdogs.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/psychiatric-service-dogs/


http://www.power2u.org/alternatives2010/downloads/PSDSpresentation.pdf

http://www.iaadp.org/psd_tasks.html

JTMOM422
by Brenda on Feb. 1, 2013 at 8:47 PM

I have wanted to get ds a service dog too but the cost was out of this world. We have a place in our state that trains dogs for ASD children and adults but the cost is $12000 a dog. I just can't afford that. I would love to get one but unless I win the lottery it's not going to happen. What other types of dogs do you recommend? I saw pretty much labs and retrievers online too.

MamaFrankie
by on Feb. 1, 2013 at 8:49 PM

 Maybe your Insurence would cover some of the cost? I have found insurence covers alot more then they are willing to inform you

kajira
by Emma on Feb. 1, 2013 at 8:57 PM

I've had 2 rottweilers, a bulldog and a masitff. my mastiff's my current one and is being trained.

My rule of thumb is getting them well trained enough to pass the AKC good citizenship.

I don't need a dog for medication or picking things up - but I do need a dog to help stabilize me if i trip, or sensory issues, or to just keep her between me and strangers to keep my personal bubble safe.

It depends on what you are doing the dog for - I have a bad back and feel safest with a dog that's bigger than me. so i need a dog capable of supporting my weight if needed. i also like my dogs to squish me and let me glom onto them so a small dog is a poor choice for that. 

labs can work well, along with golden retrievers, but I really, really like dogs that are more bonded to one family or person. I think for a service dog, having an uber-friendly dog who likes everyone sounds nice, but for an ASD kid, you want the dog to clearly be more attached to them, than others. It helps their self confidence to know that the dog likes them best.

So, I really would suggest looking into different breeds and picking the size/personality based on your child or your family, rather than the "usual" breeds unless those breeds ARE the exact personality you are looking for.

I tend to prefer bigger dogs who are slightly aloof with strangers. I like my dog to want to be with me and rely on me, but not be super eager to be pet or have attention from strangers, while still being stable in public.

Quoting JTMOM422:

I have wanted to get ds a service dog too but the cost was out of this world. We have a place in our state that trains dogs for ASD children and adults but the cost is $12000 a dog. I just can't afford that. I would love to get one but unless I win the lottery it's not going to happen. What other types of dogs do you recommend? I saw pretty much labs and retrievers online too.


Living with Autism - The quirky kitty.

Our autistic Family - A Dad's point of view on living with Autism

VioletsMomTown
by Robyn on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:08 PM

We have organizations in Canada which give you the dogs for free. The wait is up to 2 years, but they will train them and then train the family on how to work with them. If it is a certified service dog, then you will have access to more places with them, and you can write off vet expenses and food for the dog on your taxes. I would go the professional route so that you know for sure that they are trained according to how they found they need to be specifically for autism. I know they usually work with labs and standard poodles here, the poodles are hypoallergenic.

kajira
by Emma on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:13 PM


poodles are not hypoallergenic, it's just that they don't have fur like most dogs, it's more hair-like, reducing the shedding amount which reduces the likelyhood of severe allergic reactions.


Canada is slightly different with their laws, in the USA there's no such thing as a certification for a service dog, and it's illegal to ask for proof of training.


Quoting VioletsMomTown:

We have organizations in Canada which give you the dogs for free. The wait is up to 2 years, but they will train them and then train the family on how to work with them. If it is a certified service dog, then you will have access to more places with them, and you can write off vet expenses and food for the dog on your taxes. I would go the professional route so that you know for sure that they are trained according to how they found they need to be specifically for autism. I know they usually work with labs and standard poodles here, the poodles are hypoallergenic.


Living with Autism - The quirky kitty.

Our autistic Family - A Dad's point of view on living with Autism

kajira
by Emma on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:15 PM

http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/08/the-myth-of-the-hypoallergenic-dog/

You may now file hypoallergenic dogs under Things That Are Too Good to Be True. That’s the conclusion of a new study by Henry Ford Hospital researchers, which finds that homes with so-called hypoallergenic dogs don’t have lower household levels of allergens than those with other breeds.

Hypoallergenic dogs, which include purebreds like poodles and Portuguese water dogs, along with increasingly popular mixed breeds like labradoodles (the offspring of a Labrador retriever and a poodle), are thought to shed less fur and to produce less of the stuff that triggers allergies, such as dander and saliva. The price tag for these allergy-free pooches usually tops $2,000, but the new study suggests your money may be misspent if you’re buying them in hopes of avoiding allergy attacks.

“We found no scientific basis to the claim hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen,” said Christine Cole Johnson, chair of Henry Ford Hospital’s department of public health sciences and senior author of the study, in a statement.

kajira
by Emma on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Service Animals

The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for title II (State and local government services) and title III (public accommodations and commercial facilities) on September 15, 2010, in the Federal Register. These requirements, or rules, clarify and refine issues that have arisen over the past 20 years and contain new, and updated, requirements, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards).

Overview

This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s new regulations.

  • Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.
  • A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  • Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.

How “Service Animal” Is Defined

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.

Where Service Animals Are Allowed

Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.

Service Animals Must Be Under Control

Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges, and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals

  • When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
  • Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
  • A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
  • Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
  • People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. In addition, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.
  • If a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by himself or his service animal.
  • Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.
kajira
by Emma on Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:20 PM

http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/214

Tasks for Autism Service Dogs

When considering what kinds of tasks to teach a service dog for an Autistic person, it is important not to get hung up on the concept of an all-purpose 'Autism service dog' but rather a dog specifically trained to mitigate the individual problems that a specific person experiences as a result of Autism. Autism is a spectrum disorder, and no two Autistic people will have precisely the same difficulties or strengths. Also, because Autism is a developmental disability, the way in which it affects the person will change over time, most noticeably in childhood and adolescence, but in adulthood as well. Autism may be frequently diagnosed in childhood, but it is a lifelong neurological condition.
While Autism itself is no longer considered to be a psychiatric disability, it is a neurological disability that affects the way a person thinks and processes sensory information. Many Autistic people also have dyspraxia, which affects both fine motor and gross motor skills. Thus, people familiar with other types of service dogs will recognize tasks that are frequently taught to dogs trained to assist those with visual, hearing, mobility, and psychiatric disabilities. Remember, the dog is there to help the person, not the disability. It is also important to remember that a dog should not necessarily be the first choice in mitigating a difficulty that a person has, nor is it usually the easiest, best, cheapest, or most flexible solution. Generally, the purpose of a service animal for any disability is to replace dependence on human assistance, not on properly used assistive technology.

Sometimes alarms and timers alone are not sufficient for an Autistic person who has trouble processing sensory information or who becomes panicked in emergency situations. For example, a person may have difficulty in responding to a traditional alarm clock. For most people, simply getting a louder alarm clock, or a bed-shaking alarm clock such as those used by the deaf and hard of hearing may be sufficient. If these technological solutions do not work, a dog may be taught to respond to the sound of the alarm by touching the handler, by removing the blankets from the bed, or perhaps by switching on the light. It is possible to train a dog to wake a person at a specific time of day, however this limits the handler to only getting up at that time of day, which is problematic when one considers travel to different time zones, daylight saving time changes, waking from naps or schedule changes due to changes in a person's job or work schedule. A dog may also be trained to lead a person to other kinds of alarms, such as timed pill dispensers or kitchen timers--some Autistic people may become distracted while cooking and forget that something is cooking, resulting in ruined food or possibly a fire. Another situation in which a dog may be trained to respond to an alarm is in the case of a smoke alarm. Many Autistic people are sensitive to loud noises and may become disoriented. A dog can be trained to respond to the alarm by waking the person if the alarm goes off when the person is asleep, and once the person is awake, leading the person out of the building.

Another group of tasks which are related to the previously mentioned task of leading the handler out of the building in response to a smoke alarm are the leading and guiding tasks. It is important to remember that dogs are not Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, they have limited abilities, they are not human beings in fur coats, and one must remember the limitations of a dog's senses and mental ability. With guide dogs for the blind, the dog's job is to lead the handler around obstacles in the handler's path, stop at doorways, curbs, stairs, and drop-offs, and occasionally to find specific types of objects such as doors and staircases. The dog is told when to turn right, turn left, or keep going straight ahead by the handler. At all times, the handler must be aware of the surroundings and know where the team is and where they are going. Although dogs can become habituated to familiar routes (this is known as 'patterning' in the guide dog world) and may not need the handler to direct every turn, it is not reasonable to assume that a dog can learn a large number of routes on autopilot. The dog is there to provide information to the handler, and the handler makes the decisions on what to do about that information. The same should be true of a dog partnered with an Autistic person who has difficulty processing spatial information and may have trouble navigating through space using visual information. Another type of guide work is really a form of tracking, such as is used by search and rescue dogs. A dog may learn to back-track on the scent trail of the team to get the team to the exit of a building, or perhaps to lead the team back to a familiar place should the team get lost while out walking.

Another concern some Autistic people have is remembering to bring vital objects with them when they leave the home, such as shoes or other clothing items, keys, wallet, etc. There are two ways to accomplish this. If a person uses checklists as a management technique, but has difficulty remembering to use the checklists themselves, the dog can direct them to the checklist if it is placed in a prominent place. The dog may also fetch the objects if they are kept in the same general area, and direct the handler to the objects before exiting. The dog could be taught to find and retrieve the objects by scent, although this is limited to objects that have a distinctive odor and if the object was left in an area that is accessible to the dog.

Previously discussed in this document was responding to the sound of alarms. Other sound response work may also benefit an Autistic person. The dog may be taught to signal the handler to the sound of the handler's name if the handler has auditory processing difficulties, by a tactile signal and by looking in the direction from which the sound came so that the handler knows who is trying to get his or her attention. The dog may also be taught to respond to the sound of a doorbell, telephone, etc. and lead the handler to the source of the sound.

A dog may also be taught to signal the handler of specific self-stimulatory repetitive behaviors ('stimming'), particularly if the behavior is physically harmful or may cause extreme social problems. It is important to understand that most self-stimulatory behavior has a specific cause and that the extinction of all stimming may be impossible or even harmful to the well-being of an Autistic person. Therefore, it is probably best to limit interruptions and signals that truly put the handler at risk of physical harm, such as head-banging or skin picking.

A dog may also be trained to find specific family members in the home, whether to summon assistance, or to carry notes, particularly if the handler has speech difficulties.

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