Support Dogs? Isn’t that just for the blind?
Not a chance! Autism Support Dogs have been highly successful with many children. They are able to calm a child in ways that a human could never manage and assist those who would otherwise be a flight risk.
There is the social aspect as well. Children with ASD have a new chance to interact with other kids who are interested in their dog.
Where do I get one?
One organization in BC, is the BC Guide Dog Services. There may be a wait list, so I would encourage people to apply as soon as possible.
BC & Alberta Guide Dogs
7061 Ladner Trunk Rd.
Delta, BC V4K 3N3
Toll free: 1.877.940.4504
If you are looking for a pet companion for your child, it’s worth having a look at Pacific Assistance Dogs VIP dogs. These are dogs which were found not suitable for support dog services, but are well trained and may be suitable for certain youngsters.
How much will the dog cost?
The support dogs are provided free of charge for all users.
A parents perspective
One of our parents wrote a post telling us of her experience getting a support dog. She ultimately got one out of Ontario and learned quite a bit on the way. For her story and more information on what constitutes a certified dog and why you need one, click here.
In particular the post introduces us to another Canadian ADI certified organization – the Lion’s Foundation of Canada, whose website is at http://www.dogguides.com/autism.html . They are doing some excellent work with support dogs for children with autism. Please take the time to read her story as it has important information that is not readily available elsewhere.
What about the cost of maintaining the dog?
New for 2008, the cost of maintaining a service dog is an eligible medical expense. The following quote is from the CRA Medical and Disability Related Information circular.
- “In addition to the cost of the animal, the care and maintenance (including food and veterinarian care) are eligible expenses. Reasonable travel expenses incurred for the patient to attend a school, institution or other place that trains him or her in the handling of such an animal (including reasonable board and lodging for full-time attendance at the school), are eligible expenses. The animal must be provided by a person or organization whose purpose is training such animals.
For 2008 and later years, the eligibility to claim the cost of specially trained animals and their related expenses, has been extended to persons who are severely affected by autism or epilepsy.”
Where can I get more background information?
There is a book specifically about having an assistance dog for a child with autism called: “The Golden Bridge: A Guide to Assistance Dogs for Children Challenged By Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities”. I haven’t read it yet, but if someone wants to give me a review, it would be appreciated.