Support animals have gotten to be increasingly popular and accepted. Over the years, the world has gotten more fond of support animals for young people with special needs.
Studies have revealed that animals can significantly influence the physical independence and emotional welfare of young people. Their relevance has widened because they are now being trained to support a comprehensive range of people.
Kinds of support animals
There are three kinds of support animals based on their training, task performance and various levels of access to public places, and they include:
Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming majority of service animals are dogs. They can function as a guide for blind and deaf individuals. They can also seek out help from people nearby when their owner has a severe health complication.
They can bring back items previously dropped and pull out wheelchairs. These dogs are highly trained and can perform physical tasks for a person with a physical disability. Service dogs shouldn’t be confused for pets; they are regarded as a “medical apparatus.” For this reason, they have a unique legal status and can probably follow their owner anywhere they can fit.
Emotional support animals
These can be dogs or any other animal. They are prescribed by medical doctors and can provide aid for a disabled individual. They do not have the same level of training as service dogs but can provide support and comfort. This is why they are permitted on airplanes and other public areas that pets are usually not allowed to enter.
These are insured, registered, and trained pets. Unlike the service and emotional support animals, they do not belong to a particular disabled individual. They belong to the person that brings them to certain facilities for therapeutic functions.
A therapy animal tends to visit medical facilities such as clinics and nursing homes, to relieve stress. They also provide comfort in their visits to places like schools. Also, unlike the emotional support and service animals, they are not medically needed. For this reason, they can’t be brought into certain places without specific permission.
Functions of service animals
Support animals are beneficial because they can do a great deal for young people who needs them. You can get the best out of the skill set of your support animal if you learn how to work with it.
These animals have been trained to be more than just a receptive and accommodating companion. These are some of the functions a support animal can do for young people:
- They act as a guide to young individuals who are blind, deaf or has an extremely short attention span
- They help individuals to cross the roads, avoid obstructions on the way and avoid colliding with other pedestrians
- Reach out to others when their owner is having a seizure or a similar situation that requires urgent medical attention
- Retrieve items dropped by their owners
- Pulling wheelchairs
- Providing physical aid for transferring, balance and similar needs
- Appropriately trained service animals can aid a child to learn better by attending to them as they read aloud
- A source of emotional support and companionship
- They enhance social skills by responding to the young person’s input. A horse responds to touch while a dog responds to commands
- They help boost the young person’s self-esteem and sense of responsibility
- They help to control mood swings, manage emotional challenges and anxiety
- They help by demonstrating proper behaviours (an animal such as a dog can show kids how to relax in bad, wake up and answer requests).
Questions that should be considered before opting for support animals
Irrespective of young individuals’ special needs, there is a high chance that a support animal can come in. There are specific questions one must be able to have answers to before bringing in support animals. These questions include:
- Is my child in the right age range (12 and above) to physically and mentally work with an animal?
- Can my child, to whatever degree possible, provide care for an animal?
- Will an animal meet the physical and emotional needs of my child?
- Is my family even ready to own and care for a support animal?
- Are you capable of making a commitment for a long time to an animal that is likely living with you for many years?
- Do you have the space and time for this animal?
Access enjoyed by support animals
The support animal can be with its owner always. This is possible if it is regarded as a medical apparatus or it has been medically prescribed. The only exception to this privilege is unruly behavior by the animal, making it a hazard or nuisance to others. Is it essential one checks his state regulations about the definition of support animals. This is to ensure theirs meet the set criteria.
In places where pets are usually not allowed entry, the owner should have an official letter from his doctor or therapist. This letter will explain the child’s disability and why the animal will be beneficial to the individual’s health.
Service animals in schools
Even in schools, service animals are allowed access to their owners. Possible allergies or fear of dogs are not strong reasons for prohibiting support animals from entering schools.
Accommodations can be made for some cases. For instance, the case of someone who is allergic to dog fur being in the same location as one with a service dog. Different rooms or locations in the place should be assigned to those two individuals.
How to acquire a support animal
Acquiring a trained support animal is very expensive. It also requires the potential owner being trained to be able to interact with it appropriately. Another thing involved is home inspection; you must ensure you have a home suitable for the animal.
Service animals cost a lot of money, but they can cost less. If you want to spend less on support animals, you can acquire one through a non-profit service animal provider. Good examples of non-profit service animal providers include:
- International Federation of Guide Dog Schools
- Assistance Dogs International
- International Association of Dog Partners
- Dogs for the Deaf and Disabled Americans
- 4 Paws for Ability
- Paws for a Cause
A therapy dog provides the kind of comfort that enables the brain to relax. It’s similar to the way healthy relationships impact the functions of our brains. A therapy dog’s presence can have an impact on the different neurotransmitters that are released from the brain.
Oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone,” helps calm and soothe the nervous system. This also helps in enhanced cognitive function. It has also been revealed that therapy dogs help lower blood pressure and the level of cortisol released.
This is beneficial because it means the body heals better and faster. Support animals are necessary auxiliaries for disabled individuals who wish to go about their daily lives like normal people. They have been a tremendous help to people who sought the services of professionally trained animals. They are a good investment for disabled individuals.
Dogs help with learning disabilities – verywellfamily