Considering a Service Dog to Assist Children with Disabilities
by Cindy Ewert, OTR/L
Kids Place Pediatric Occupational Therapist
When you feel like you have exhausted every option, and are still looking for the one thing that could change your child’s life, a service dog therapy dog may be your answer! It is important to note that service dogs can be very expensive; however, there are organizations that can help buffer some of the cost.
What is a service dog?
Service dogs can be Guide Dogs or dogs that assist children with Autism, and many other disabilities. The likelihood of finding a service dog that fits your child’s specific diagnosis is extremely high.
What is the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog?
A service dog is specifically trained to assist a person with their disability. A therapy dog is often certified to provide comfort, love, and provided social interaction.
How can service dogs help?
Service dogs alert their owner to sounds if they are auditory challenged. They can assist in opening doors and picking up objects for those with mobility challenges. Service dogs alert their owners of an oncoming seizure, and assist those who are visually impaired. They have been known to help increase social participation among children, decrease anxiety, prevent/interrupt maladaptive behavior, provide deep pressure for calming benefits, and help their owners sleep better at night.
Below are some resources to help you determine if a service dog is a good match for you and your family: