SDs In School With Young Children? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-14-2010, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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SDs In School With Young Children?

The issue is coming up more and more. Many articles on the topic are run in the newspapers across the country. There are families that want a SD to go to school with children as young as 4 in their Pre-K class.

And in just about every article there are mistakes, half-correct statements, and out of context quotes. The follow up remarks can be very hateful, stupid, or full of nonsense.

A few things that tend to bother me in many of these articles and the follow-up remarks:

"If the child was blind they would not deny the use of his/her Seeing Eye Dog."
Seeing Eye dogs are from one organization in NJ but that is just like using the term Kleenex (a brand) when in fact someone is talking about tissue for the nose. The point that is very incorrect is that schools for Guide Dogs do not give these dogs to 2, 4, or even 12 year old children so the issue of a guide dog attending Pre-K or Middle School is not even a consideration.

"Service dogs are trained to be gentle, good-mannered, etc. etc. etc."
All dogs, even the best of them, are animals and need guidance or even the best training can go away.

Then there is the allergy child vrs. the deaf child, the autistic child, the (fill in the blank) child. Any disabled child has needs and certain medical issues that must be addressed. And yes, having a dog in a class room can be very dangerous for some children. Allergies in some cases are also covered under the ADA as for some people they can be life-threatening. So anyone using this needs to know the facts of both sides and not claim one child's rights under the ADA trumps another child's rights.

Classrooms are not "Public" so Public Access Rights of the handler do not come into play automatically. (Public Access Rigts are addressed under Title III).

One item that is hardly ever addressed or if so hardly/ever/not fully answered. Who is to take the dog out to use the bathroom, make sure it has water, keep an eye on it that it is not becoming stressed? The teacher who has a classroom of other children to work with? Several times I have heard the answer that "the school system can hire someone". OK, so they pay a person (at least minimum wage and benefits) to sit and watch the dog that watches the child. Their only duty is to take the dog out to potty and to offer it a drink of water? Or if the dog is becoming stressed they take the dog from the child and go call a parent or some other arrangement? If you are a parent I will ask you this - at what age were your children reliable to care for a pet such as making sure it has water and has the chance to go relieve itself? Is the child expected to take the dog outside (safely?) and then come back in to continue their class? Or does some adult go with the child to make sure they are safe while the child is outside with the dog?

Sorry but I have never heard a full response to the above question and it has been asked many times.

Is the child able to control the dog? Is the child able to give commands to the dog? To protect the dog? Again, the only answers I have heard to this is the teacher or aide can learn how to control the dog. OK, so the teacher goes to a class with the dog (remember now mom or dad went off for a week or so for this class) or does the local school system have people trained how to handle SDs on standby to attend school with a child - everyday, all school day long - for however long the child needs before they can handle the dog?

I think these are answers that if answered fully and with knowledge of working a SD they would convince more people to accept a dog in the school. But just repeating that a child has rights doesn't help the case.

The above are of course my opinion and my questions. These will differ with many people.

I'm open to listening to all answers but if something is stated as a fact please give a reference from which this info is coming. Otherwise, I and possibly others will just accept it as an opinion of the poster.

Most of the articles lately deal with Autistic children and their dogs in school so much of my post tends to lean toward these children.

(A lot of my opinion on the matter of dogs for very young Autistic Children is based on speaking with Austistic Teen-agers and Adults on the topic of Autistic Dogs with young children. And on this matter I can not give a reference so this would be in fact posted under a "my opinion".)

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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6 year old Autistic boy:

from Naplesnews.com
Bone to pick: Parent upset autistic child can?t use service dog in Collier school Naples Daily News


7 year old Autistic girl:
from ydr.com
Family, Southern district disagree on autism service dog in school - The York Daily Record

The picture in this article bothers me as this dog while being claimed to walk nice by the side of the little girl shows a dog that would not even pass a CGC much less be considered a suitable walk on leash for a SD.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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What should a parent do if they want their child's SD to be allowed to go into the classroom?

The dog would need to be included in the child's IEP (Individual Education Plan)
IDEA - Building The Legacy of IDEA 2004

If they are not getting the help that they need through the individual school they can:
1) Go to the local school district/school board
2) Appeal to their State Dept. of Education

For more on this topic you can go to the U.S. Dept. of Ed website
IDEA - Building The Legacy of IDEA 2004

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
The picture in this article bothers me as this dog while being claimed to walk nice by the side of the little girl shows a dog that would not even pass a CGC much less be considered a suitable walk on leash for a SD.
I think the picture might indicate the condition of the child more than an unruly dog. Autistic children often exhibit body language that is very different from other children and her posture and arm/hand positions appear pretty characteristic of an autistic child. The dog keeping more distance than we usually see may be the best thing for that girl. Of course it could also be a problem with the dog, but you can't really tell from the picture.

I would like to be as good as my dogs think I am.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwilrdg View Post
I think the picture might indicate the condition of the child more than an unruly dog. Autistic children often exhibit body language that is very different from other children and her posture and arm/hand positions appear pretty characteristic of an autistic child. The dog keeping more distance than we usually see may be the best thing for that girl. Of course it could also be a problem with the dog, but you can't really tell from the picture.
I agree.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 03:33 PM
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I write IEPs as part of my job. What you have to understand is that they are built based upon evaluation reports, class performance, and then the supports required by the disability are written into the IEP (legal document) which will follow the child. These needs as defined by the evaluations then have goals written in. And then within the goals is the evaluation plan. Also a SD would probably fall into the category of assistive devices- much like a wheel chair, foot props, hearing aids, microphones, word processing units, and other communication devices.

Most severely autistic kids in Elementary school are provided with a 1:1 paraprofessional or they are in a specific classroom unit to provide increased supervision and assitance as well as an environment tailored to suit the students in the population that that class is serving. Now it is very hard for me to understand the need for a Service dog for a child who basically has constant adult supervision and assitance within their educational enviroment.

And while I understand the emotional benefit that a service dog might have, that's harder to create as a quantitive goal and evaluation plan. I mean I have kids with emotional disabilties. Many people will attest to the power of having an animal to sooth emotions. However I'm sure no one is going to approve a SD in a Public School because it makes their kid feel better. I mean I also write goals all the time for kids to work on their life skills including responsibility- but I don't give them a dog to help them learn that.

Ultimately, if the school can provide the same supports and services to the child in a way that will be less disruptive, then they will do so. And I also tend to agree that a young disabled child, particularly one that has a cognitive disability will not have the ability to adequately care for the dog. It's sort of a situation set up for failure.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-15-2010, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Does the child have control?

Per the ADA, Revised:

(d) Animal under handler´s control. A service animal shall be under the control of its handler ...


Some parents are suing and claiming the school should provide someone to see to the dog's needs while at school

The ADA, Revised says:

(e) Care or supervision. A public entity is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.


The ADA does not give automatic permission for a SD to be present in a school classroom (classrooms are not *open* to the public unless a special event such as an *Open House* is going on.

Again, the ADA, Revised:

(g) Access to areas of a public entity. Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a public entity´s facilities where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.


JKlatsky wrote:
Quote:
And while I understand the emotional benefit that a service dog might have, that's harder to create as a quantitive goal and evaluation plan. I mean I have kids with emotional disabilties. Many people will attest to the power of having an animal to sooth emotions.
That is what is on very many of our minds. Per the ADA, Revised:

§ 35.136 Service animals

“Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” *

* I added the bolding to the end.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-16-2010, 01:28 AM
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Since Columbine, there have been zero tolerance policies in schools concerning bullying and fighting and the like. Why do children get into fights more often than adults? Well, just maybe kids do not consider the whole picture, maybe they do not consider the consequences of their actions, maybe they are more impulsive and do not think before they act.

Ok, now lets add a disability. Are kids with disabilities better behaved the kids that do not have disablities? Are they less likely to act impulsively, immaturely, etc? I really do not think so.

Now let us add a dog. Not a highly trained and well socialized guide dog from an accredited school that takes a trained dog matches them with a handler and then spends days getting the two of them to work together.

No, we are thinking more in the terms of a service dog. What can the service dog do. It picks up objects that a disabled person drops. It might indicate a cardiac condition or an epileptic siezure coming on. It may make an atuistic person feel more comfortable.

Where do you draw the line?

If my kid had a cardiac condition and I had a dog that could alert on that, if the school would not let the kid take the dog to school, and learn how to read the dog, etc, well then maybe I would homeschool that kid. The condition is serious.

Epilepsy/siezure dogs, while they can be very helpful to a child that is siezing, I do not know that they improve the health of the person or can prevent the death of the person.

Having the dogs there, if not certified in some way, I would think would be an aweful risk to other kids.

I guess what I think is that school districts should make a decision case by case.

And if there seems like the situation warrants a service dog, and the school system simply does not want to have a child handling a dog, then they should offer tutors for the child to be thaough at home.

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