Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

School Denies Access to Service Dog

Meet Adam and his dog Kita. Adam has Fragile X Syndrome, and his service dog Kita helps him get through live. Federal Law protects Kita's access everywhere else, but school wants a court order before they allow access!

Kita and Adam are still in the bonding process, and have only been together for a few weeks, so they're still "learning" each other. Kita does several things for Adam, one of which is interrupting self injurious behaviors. She also alerts to impending seizures. School says "But we have other students and teachers who are allergic to dogs." And, I'm sure they do. Those same people will run into service dogs out in the community too! They probably haven't even noticed the service dog laying under the chairs at a neighboring table last night when they went out to eat, or the dog at the ball game, or in their church. Service dogs don't have to be big! I've seen King Charles Spaniels as service dogs, and most people don't even realize the dog is there.

The funny thing is, if Adam were blind, school wouldn't deny the dog, because the dog's services would be obvious. But when people have disabilities that are hidden, it can be difficult to see what service the dog is providing. It really shouldn't matter. It's not up to the general public to decide weather or not a person's service dog really provides a service. Once the dog has had the necessary training and testing, and been deemed "service dog", nobody else gets to say, "But I don't think he really needs that dog, so we're not going to allow it."


william said...

While I can sympathise with these parents I have to say, obviously you've never had a pet allergy. Of course, all people manifest allergies differently, some can have hayfever symptoms but others can have migraines, joint pain, nettle rash and eczema.

My daughter has eczema from pet allergies. We don't have any pets but my MIL's lodgers decided to sneak a hamster into their room and the havoc that has wreaked upon us isn't funny in the least.

Some of the symptoms had us frightened she had leukaemia even. We were relieved to find it was a pet allergy (though the test for leukaemia is postponed as the allergies attack white blood cells so we have to try to get the allergens removed as much as we can so as to not cause false results with the test when we do take it).

The skin on her face is so severely affected we are worried about scarring and infection. All because they didn't think a pet allergy was a big deal and broke the no pet rules. They left as soon as they were discovered but the dander may take YEARS to completely remove and it has already been more than a month and we still can't go to her house. As well, since we didn't realise the pet was there we'd been round to visit Grandma a lot in the less than two weeks they had it so it ended up being transferred to our home as well. Not as much but we still are having to hoover with the hepa hoover, damp dusting EVERYTHING and washing all of our clothes at over 60 degrees Celsius (I don't know the Fahrenheit translation of that). This is actually ruining some of our clothing, as you can imagine.

So, whilst we never saw the little hamster, it definitely has caused months of suffering for us. Me as well but I'm concerned mostly for my daughter.

As much as I feel for the little child in your article, I have to say I would agree that it shouldn't be in the school. If he needs it and I don't doubt he does, I would have to say that health and safety should be followed and he maybe have his classes somewhere where the majority of the students are not in contact with it.

No matter what it is a hard thing but allergies are truly not a laughing matter. They can be far more debilitating than this child's issues when the dog isn't with him.

I just thought it was important to show both sides of this. If we'd not known of the hamster we'd have gone ahead with blood tests and they would have most likely required bone marrow tests to confirm but the worst case scenario would be that they just assumed it was leukaemia and started treating her with chemo. It is truly THAT serious.

Leah said...

Thanks for your comment, and YES there are two sides to this predicament! This is exactly why labradoodles and goldendoodles were developed. Dogs who had the drive for service work, yet rarely trigger allergic reactions to those with dog allergies. (you probably don't know from reading this blog that I breed goldendoodles.) My therapy dog Dudley goes to school with my daughter quite often. Children with pet allergies are kept away from him (or him from them, as the case may be) other kids are welcome to touch him. Interestingly there was one little girl that teachers didn't know (or didn't remember) that she was allergic to dogs. She was all over Dudley, and never reacted to him. When she got home she told her mom about the dog. Mom looked her over head to toe and she didn't have any hives, OR her typical asthmatic reaction. Mom called school to find out just what kind of dog it was her daughter had been petting, because she didn't react. Allergies are a tough thing, there is no doubt about it. That said, I am VERY familiar with Leukemia, as I have several friends who's children have it (one of the wonderful things that comes with Down Syndrome is an increased risk of leukemias) and I do know they don't ever "assume" that a child has leukemia and start treating it. No need to poison a child who doesn't truly need it with chemotherapy.

Larkinsmom said...

Let me just say this - about - that. A person who needs a guide dog can be seperated from a person with a known allergy. Until they begin to patrol those who douse themselves in perfume and share their toxic scent with the rest of us, I don't think a guide dog is the place to start. Does this school prohibit perfume? Service Dogs have been in use for many many years. And as far as thinking Leukemia?? WHAT DOCTOR ARE YOU GOING TO??? My daughter is followed closely by a Hematologist because of blood issues and I can assure you that the L word hasn't come up yet and she shows clear blood signs vs allergy signs.

william said...

She was diagnosed with DS at birth. The doctor hasn't seen her, they just said the tests may need confirming since allergens attack the white blood cells. I checked online to find out how and DID find that it is true, allergens do attack them. I haven't been able to find anything else though as to how it could affect the results.

I agree about perfume lol, I often get headaches from it. I don't know many children in school wearing it though.

I would think the school would keep the dog away from the kids with allergies not the kids away from the dog. It would seem easier to keep one away than several.