From the outside looking in many individuals with autism look like your average person. Many of the battles that they fight are dealt with in their minds. They look normal and act fairly normal as well, but there are certain things that are beyond difficult for them to tackle in their everyday lives.
One of the hardest things about having autism is that there isn’t a cure. Although there isn’t a cure there are still a number of interventions that can be used to help make life easier. A service dog for example is a great intervention. Communication, behavior, and social interaction are the main areas that autism tends to effect. Autism is a spectrum disorder that varies by individual, so not all needs of an autistic individual are the same. Some individuals with autism will benefit greatly from a service animal while others may be able to proceed in life without one.
How To Qualify For a Service Dog
Service dogs aren’t an easy thing to acquire and they aren’t cheap either. Often times those who are high functioning are not permitted a service animal. An autism service dog can cost more than $10,000 not including the routine necessities like food and grooming that the animal will need.
Service dogs are usually accessible by younger children with autism. A good use for these dogs is for them to provide positive companionship. They can accompany the child to school, doctors’ visits, or most social situations. The dog helps reduce stress and anxiety that may occur and it can help deflect emotions in negative situations.
There are a number of different companies that help align the proper service dog with a child. In most cases if you can pay for the animal they can find one for you. It is important that this service animal is used correctly and actually needed. These animals go through extensive training tailored towards their owner’s needs. There needs to be a level of beneficial gain that the individual will have by gaining the service dog.
If financial status is an issue for obtaining a service dog, you aren’t out of options. Many local or state facilities will help with grants or fundraisers to help raise enough money for the furry friend.
What The Process Is Like
The application process for being able to have a service dog varies based off of where you are obtaining the animal. The basic requirements for many of the places to obtain a service dog for autism include the following:
- Child must have a documented Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis
- Child’s age at time of application’s submission: 4 to 11 years old
- Child’s age at time of Autism Assistance Dog placement: 5 to 12 (max)
- No other dogs in the home
- Child must not have a fear of dogs
- Child must not have aggressive/violent behaviors towards others
- Home must have fenced yard (a common use area will not qualify)
- Ability to practice obedience and manners with Autism Assistance Dog daily
- Ability to always deal patiently and positively with your Autism Assistance Dog, as well as providing supervised exercise and play time
- Ability to attend and pay for obedience classes and/or hire a private trainer
A service animal can really make a difference in an autistic individuals life, especially those who aren’t as high-functioning as others. The bottom line is that they can be pricey and they are a long-term commitment, but they are so worth it.