Service Dog for ADHD | Do You Qualify

Service dogs are widely used to help individuals manage their daily lives and complete tasks that might otherwise be difficult for them to do alone. However, service dogs are not available to everyone. In order to acquire a service dog, you need to have some type of disability that inhibits your own ability to complete tasks. Your service animal will then help you manage parts of your disability and help you complete difficult tasks.

For example, some service animals help their owners get up from their chair or even retrieve their medications for them. Alternatively, some service dogs are trained for very specific disabilities, like blindness. A service dog who assists a blind person must be able to prevent their owner from running into objects and alert their owner of any potential hazards.

But what about ADHD? What are the symptoms of ADHD that necessitate a service dog? And how do service dogs assist those with ADHD? We will answer all of these questions and more below, but let’s begin by defining the condition.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The condition usually appears in early childhood. While some of the symptoms of ADHD may decrease in adulthood (especially with proper treatment), many symptoms can be present for life. The following symptoms are commonly found in those diagnosed with ADHD:

  • Difficulty paying attention – This is one of the most common symptoms of ADHD, though it is also prevalent in people with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). In any case, this condition usually presents itself when parents, teachers, or other authority figures are unable to keep a child focused on a given task. This can lead to difficulties with learning and socialization.
  • Hyperactivity – Excessive energy and activity help differentiate ADHD from ADD. Hyperactivity is most common in children and tends to subside to some degree once those with ADHD grow into adulthood. Hyperactive children may have difficulty sitting still or staying quiet for more than a few minutes at a time.
  • Impulsive behavior – This symptom tends to be present in both children and adults with ADHD. When a person dealing with ADHD acts impulsively, he or she will make decisions rashly, or rush through tasks without giving them much thought. In a school or workplace setting, this can lead to unnecessary errors. It can also lead to strong emotional responses and potentially risky behavior.

There is no cure for ADHD, but there are various ways for parents, teachers, and medical professionals to help a child (or adult) manage the symptoms. Medication and behavioral therapy are two of the most common methods. In some cases, children or adults with ADHD could benefit from a service dog. To better understand how a service dog can help those with ADHD, let’s look at the required qualifications to obtain a service animal.

What Are the Qualifications to Obtain a Service Dog for ADHD?

In order to obtain a service dog, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be diagnosed with ADHD by a mental health practitioner licensed in your state. You can also qualify for a service dog in general if you have a diagnosed physical disability, an anxiety disorder such as PTSD, a debilitating chronic illness, or a neurological disorder affecting at least one limb.
  • Have your service dog trained to perform at least one task that mitigates the symptoms of your ADHD.

Additionally, to ensure success with your service dog, you should:

  • Be physically and cognitively capable of participating in the process of training.
  • Be able to independently command and handle a service dog.
  • Be able to meet the physical, emotional, and financial needs of a service dog.

If you’d like to find out if you qualify for an ADHD service dog, you can contact us today to find out.

Can Someone With ADHD Obtain a Service Dog?

As long as you are officially diagnosed, it is possible to obtain a service dog for ADHD. The only requirements are to be diagnosed and to make sure your service dog is appropriately trained to assist you.

How Do Service Dogs Benefit Those With ADHD?

Those with debilitating ADHD can benefit from a service dog. A service dog can help them regain some control over their life. For example, when a person with ADHD gets distracted from an important task, a service dog can help redirect the owner’s attention back to the task at hand. Dogs require schedules, so having the animal can help serve as a routine for the owner. Every morning you take your dog out, you get the dog food, you take your dog for a walk, etc. Having a routine is great for individuals with debilitating ADHD, as it is a way to keep their mind focused and alert.

Additionally, service dogs can help ADHD patients deal with their hyperactivity. Having an animal allows you the opportunity to go for a run, a hike, or even swim together. This can help patients stay in shape, while also burning off some of their excess energy.

What Tasks Can an ADHD Service Dog Perform?

The options for tasks an ADHD service dog can perform are almost limitless since they can be trained to perform very specific tasks to help mitigate your symptoms. However, some of the most common tasks include:

  • Bringing your medication to you at set times
  • Alerting you when it’s time to change tasks, go to work, eat dinner, etc.
  • Retrieving snacks or water for you at set times
  • Helping you leave an over-stimulating environment
  • Offering grounding during meltdowns, anxiety attacks, or other troubling symptoms
  • Nudging you or licking your face if you quit working on a particular task

A service dog can help make the symptoms of ADHD feel more mangeable, and can allow someone who lives with this disorder to feel more independent, confident, and calm.

What Is the Difference Between Service Dogs, ESAs, and Therapy Animals?

It is important to note the differences between service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals. Service dogs have been trained to perform specific tasks that a person is incapable of performing on their own. For this reason, service animals are allowed in public spaces where other animals (including emotional support animals) may not be allowed to go. They can even fly with you for free in the cabin of an airplane.

Alternatively, emotional support animals are not trained in specific tasks, nor are there as many limitations on the types of animals that qualify; dogs, cats, birds, and even reptiles or small mammals can qualify as emotional support animals. In the United States, the Fair Housing Act covers the legal definitions of emotional support animals. This law helps protect emotional support animals and their owners when attempting to rent a living space. 

Therapy dogs can be used for a variety of circumstances. For example, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and hospice care facilities often use therapy dogs to combat loneliness and depression among the residents. When children (or adults) suffer the loss of a close family member, therapy dogs are a great way to encourage healing and help the individual cope with emotional trauma.

It is important to note that there are different kinds of therapy dogs that all serve different purposes. Generally, therapy dogs can be divided into three categories:

  • Therapeutic Visitation Dogs – This is the most common type of therapy dog. These pets and their owners visit hospitals, mental health facilities, and other healthcare centers to prevent patients from feeling lonely, disconnected, or hopeless.
  • Animal-Assisted Therapy Dog – This type of therapy dog is generally reserved for rehabilitation clinics. Under the guidance of a trained physiotherapist, these dogs help patients regain mobility through various motor-control activities.
  • Facility Therapy Dog – These dogs are often used exclusively in elderly care facilities to alert staff of any issues with the patients. They also provide companionship to the residents, many of whom do not have any living friends or relatives outside of the facility.

Can an Emotional Support Dog Help Those With ADHD?

If you don’t feel like you need support in public places or specific tasks performed to help with your ADHD symptoms, then an emotional support dog may be a better option. An emotional support dog is a dog that a licensed mental health professional has decided benefits you simply by living with you and offering you companionship; they’ll write an ESA letter to make this legally binding.

Emotional support dogs can offer the following benefits:

  • Be an outlet for excess energy
  • Be a non-judgmental companion
  • Provide social interaction opportunities
  • Encourage routines
  • Decrease stress
  • Offer a healthy distraction

If you primarily need comfort and companionship at home, an emotional support dog can be a great part of your ADHD treatment plan.

How Can You Get a Service Dog for ADHD?

To get a service dog for ADHD, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Obtain an ADHD diagnosis from a licensed mental health professional.
  2. Train a dog to perform at least one task to help mitigate your ADHD symptoms.

While it’s not legally required, some people choose to register their service animal as well, since having proof you’ve worked with a reliable service (like US Service Animals) can help calm disputes if someone questions your service dog’s legitimacy.

A Service Dog Can Make Life With ADHD Simpler

For those who live with ADHD, a service dog can be a remarkable treatment option that can greatly enhance their quality of life. If you think a service dog may help you manage your ADHD symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to find out if you qualify or to start the process of training a dog to be your own ADHD service animal. 

From retrieving your medications to helping you stay focused on important tasks, service dogs can make a massive difference in how ADHD impacts your day-to-day life. Don’t hesitate to find out if this is the right option for you and get the support you deserve.

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