Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Service Dog Access LegislationSaturday, October 8th, 2011

A bill called the Service Dog Access Act has been introduced by the Illinois General Assembly.

It amends the school code to permit “…a service animal to accompany a student with a disability at all school functions, whether in or outside the classroom…”.

The text explicitly includes “…autism service dogs in the list of animals that must be allowed access to a public place of accommodation…”

Synopsis
Amends the School Code. In provision permitting a service animal to accompany a student with a disability at all school functions, whether in or outside the classroom, defines “service animal” to include an animal trained or being trained as: a hearing animal; a guide animal; an assistance animal; a seizure alert animal; a mobility animal; a psychiatric service animal; or an autism service animal. Provides that reasonable accommodations must be sought for the use of a service animal to accompany a student with a disability at all school functions, whether in or outside the classroom (rather than the service animal being permitted at all school functions). Amends the Guide Dog Access Act. Changes the title of the Act to the Service Dog Access Act. Includes mobility, psychiatric service, and autism service dogs in the list of animals that must be allowed access to a public place of accommodation if such dog is wearing a harness, backpack, or vest identifying the dog as a trained service dog and such person presents credentials for inspection issued by a school for training guide, leader, seizure-alert, seizure-response, or autism service dogs. Effective immediately.

You can follow the progress of this bill at the Illinois General Assembly website.

See also: Service Dogs in School

Kegan & Everett: A Love StoryThursday, September 1st, 2011

Tethered to a FriendWritten by Kelley Atherton, The Daily Triplicate
March 17, 2010 10:26 am

Dog accompanies autistic student to grade school

Everett, an autism service dog, lies next to Kegan Going, a second-grader at Smith River Elementary School. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson

Wendy Going noticed her son Kegan had a natural inclination toward animals.

Whenever Kegan saw an animal he would start making sounds — talking in his own way. This was unusual for the boy because most of the time he’s silent, his mother said.

Kegan is autistic.

This week, Kegan, 8, brought his autism service dog Everett with him to Smith River Elementary School for the first time. Everett is expected to help Kegan stay calm and safe, both inside and outside the classroom.

It was also a chance for Kegan’s classmates to be introduced to the golden retriever and how they should act around him.

“I saw how animals had an effect on him,” Going said. “He’s more vocal … when animals are around he makes sounds.”

“I don’t know how medically,” she continued, “but that’s the way it seems to me.”

Since Everett has been in Kegan’s life, the difference has been “amazing,” she said.

Before, if she or her husband came into Kegan’s classroom, “his day would be ruined.” With Everett by his side the last few days at school, Kegan has had no reaction to Going sitting a few feet away.

“To be able to sit here and him sit at his desk,” she said, “that was never possible before.”

Community helped raise funds

Everett has been in training since he was a puppy to become an autism service dog, explained his trainer, Kati Rule-Witko, who is also an autism specialist.

The Going family applied to the Autism Service Dogs of America, a non-profit based in Lake Oswego, Ore., and was accepted to receive a dog about a year and a half ago. They then had to raise $13,500 to pay the service dog’s training and other fees.

The Goings had a “bachelor and bachelorette auction” at Elk Valley Casino in November 2008 that raised $9,000, said Wendy Going. The rest of the cost was made up in family contributions and donations.

Most people probably think of service dogs for the blind. However, in the last 30 years, they have been trained to help those with hearing impairments, social disabilities and limited mobility, according to the Autism Service Dogs of America Web site.

To learn more, go to www.autismservicedogsofamerica.com.

Starting as puppies, service dogs live with volunteers who train them in basic obedience. When they’re old enough, they get specialized training to prepare them for being with an autistic child.

Several weeks ago, Everett moved in with the Goings and became accumulated with the family. Then on Monday, Everett went to Kegan’s second-grade class.

A constant calming effect

Kegan was 2 years old when he was diagnosed with autism, Going said.

“I thought he was going deaf,” she said. “He stopped responding to his name.”

A doctor told Going that Kegan’s hearing was “perfect” and suggested that he might be autistic.

Researching the development disorder, she found out about autism service dogs. Going said she learned that a service dog can have a calming effect on an autistic child because it’s a constant presence in his or her life.

Autistic children like Kegan can have trouble dealing with a change in their routine. Change can over-stimulate the brain, but having service dogs constantly by their side reminds them that one thing hasn’t changed.

“The environment will change, but the constant is always there,” Going added.

Instructional aide Perry Cooper helps Kegan in the classroom. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson

When an autistic child is escalating into a fit, the service dog will on command place his head or legs on the child and relieve some of that pressure building inside him or her, Rule-Witko explained.

“They’re seeking to relieve that over-stimulation,” she said, that otherwise might result in children hurting themselves.

When this happens, the dog will “go over and nudge the child,” Rule-Witko said.

“That re-directs the child,” she said, “to have a different train of thought and get them out of that bad place.”

Kegan also feels the need to touch people’s hair or he twists his own, his mother said. When he met Rule-Witko, the first thing he did was try to touch her hair.

When he does this, Kegan is trying to calm himself down from something that is over-stimulating, Rule-Witko said. But, it’s not always appropriate to touch someone’s hair, so he can pet Everett.

Safety and more independence

Everett also keeps Kegan safe. Being tethered to Everett, he can’t run away, which he — like many other autistic children — has done, his mother said.

As the bond between the two grows, Everett will be able to sense if Kegan is having a seizure, a result of of his brain being over-stimulated, and alert an adult.

“That’s a big hope for the family,” Rule-Witko said.

Because Kegan is tethered to Everett, she said, his parents can give him more independence and know he’s safe.

“The child becomes more independent and confident,” she said, “something they wouldn’t have been able to develop.”

It’s been hard to go on family outings or go on vacation because Kegan needs so much attention, Going said.

“The younger kids have needs too,” she said, “that gets lost.”

This past weekend, the whole family went to the mall and zoo in Eureka, something they had not done before.

Learning to live with Everett

Rule-Witko is spending three days, ending today, at the school helping Kegan and everyone else get used to Everett and understand his job as a service dog.

“The fear is the unknown,” she said about bring a service dog into a school. “I spend three days answering questions about how to handle situations.”

Rule-Witko explained to all the students and staff what a service dog does and the rules for being around him, such as no talking to or petting Everett.

The vest Everett wears identifies him as a service dog. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson

A dog can be a big distraction for children, she said, but added, “give it a week and it will be an everyday thing.”

Kegan’s teacher, Nicole Cochran, said that Everett’s presence in the classroom hasn’t required much of an adjustment.

At first, the other students were excited having Everett around and wanted to play with him, but Cochran told them “he has a job to do just like they have a job to do.”

After a while, she said they probably won’t even notice Everett is around.

“It will be part of their school life,” she said.

Principal Paige Swan said that everyone in the school was made aware that a service dog would be on the campus.

Right before Rule-Witko and Everett were set to come to Smith River School, there was some hesitation on the school district’s part, Going said.

Swan said that the proper protocols had to be gone through to avoid any liability issues and make sure everything went as “smooth as possible.”

Kegan will likely have a service dog for the rest of his life because of the comfort and reassurance it gives him, his mother said.

“Once that connection has been made,” she said, “you can’t break it.”

Campers Learn Dog Handling and EmpathyWednesday, August 10th, 2011

“Autism Service Dogs of America’s Doggie Day Camp is celebrating its third year of teaching children 7 and older how to properly train a service dog while learning compassion for the children with disabilities who will eventually take the dogs home.” – Maygan Beckers, The Tigard Times

Doggie Day Camp celebrates third year [The Tigard Times]

Service Dogs in SchoolFriday, July 29th, 2011

“An Illinois Appellate Court issued a precedent setting decision regarding the rights of students with disabilities who use service animals in their schools. This decision, which provides the first appellate interpretation of the service animal provision of the Illinois School Code, will allow K.D., a seven year old child with autism, to continue to attend school with his service animal.” Equip for Equality, 8/24/2010

“As a dog lover myself, I was touched by this section of the opinion” – Andrea M. B. Ott, Illinois State Bar

Service Dogs in School (Chewey’s Story) [Law Offices of Andrea M.B. Ott, LLC]

See also: Service Dog Access Legislation

Service dogs are beyond fetchingMonday, July 18th, 2011

“Their use is growing. They help guide the blind, perform tasks for the physically disabled and may even help people with epilepsy and autism.” – Karen Ravn, Speical to the Los Angeles Times

Service Dogs [The Los Angeles Times]

2011 Doggie Day CampSaturday, May 21st, 2011

Autism Service Dogs of America invites your child to join our Doggie Day Camp.  Participants in our day camp gain a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and self-respect by helping a dog help others.

Important Dates

Session 1: August 15-18, Monday – Thursday
Session 2: August 22-25, Monday – Thursday

Please download the poster and registration form for more information.

Doggie Day Camp Poster

Doggie Day Camp Registration Form

2010 AccomplishmentsFriday, December 10th, 2010

TO ALL OUR PUPPY RAISERS AND SUPPORTERS
Thank you for another great year!

With your help, we have accomplished wonderful things in 2010.

Click here to see our dogs making a difference in children’s lives!



ASDA “You Raise Me Up” VideoSaturday, July 3rd, 2010

Parents want $14,000 service dog in classFriday, May 28th, 2010

“Paul and Milka Ciriacks waited nearly two years before they got a service dog to make life easier for their 6-year-old autistic son, Caleb.  Now they’re furious, saying Cypress School District officials have tried to bar the golden retriever from attending classes at Caleb’s school.” – Michael Mello, The Organge County Register

Parents want $14,000 service dog in class [The Orange County Register]

A Boy and His Autism Service DogWednesday, April 28th, 2010

“Milo encouraged me to start a blog tonight. So here goes! We are going to try to keep telling cool stories about him and Chad and their life together.” – Clare Vaccaro

A Boy and His Autism Service Dog