Monday, November 16, 2015

What Disabilities Qualify for a Service Dog?

I get questions a lot like can you get a service dog for depression?  For generalized anxiety disorder?  For Tourette Syndrome?  For asthma?  Insert your disability here.

When determining whether or not you qualify for a service dog, it doesn't matter what your disability is.  What matters is how your disability affects you.  It's a matter of how severe your condition is, not what your diagnosis is.

A real simple example is that of visual impairments.  Many people wear eyeglasses.  But most are not disabled by a visual impairment.  With their glasses, they can see all right.  Some people, though, have such poor eyesight that glass don't help or that, even with glasses, they cannot see very well at all.  They have trouble doing all sorts of things due to their poor eyesight.  They are blind or visually impaired and are considered disabled.

The same can be said for many, many conditions.  Lots of people with PTSD are not disabled by the condition.  Many people have anxiety disorders, and maybe they see a therapist or take medication for it, but they aren't disabled.  They are able to do daily tasks with little or no assistance.  Some people, though, are unable to manage basic tasks due to their severe anxiety and they are disabled by the condition. 

Lots of people have diabetes but are not disabled by it.  They have to watch what they eat and maybe they need to check their blood sugar a few times a day and maybe they take medication or even insulin injections, but they are able to see and hear and think and communicate and concentrate and breathe and all those basic life activities just fine.  Some people, though, have severe highs and lows with their blood sugar and for some reason aren't able to feel it when their glucose drops dangerously low (I sure feel it, but some people, often children, don't), and it can be life-threatening.  They might be disabled by their condition, even though many people with diabetes are not.

I could make a list of disabilities for which someone might have a service dog, but it would be a super long list, and I'd be sure to forget to include some conditions.  The bottom line is that it depends on how the condition affects you.  If you're not sure if you are disabled by your condition, whatever, that condition is, that is a conversation to have with your doctor.

And if you're not sure how to go about talking to your health care provider about a service dog, check out this post.

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