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How do I find out if I qualify for a psychological/psychiatric service dog?

So here's the thing... I was diagnosed with Asperger's recently. I know a lot of people don't regard that as a real disability and think it's just social issues, but unless you're living with it, you don't have any idea. I have rad the ADA guidelines on disability, and I -think- I meet it, though the wording is somewhat questionable in some places. In order to have a service dog you have to meet the definition of disability. Also, I have heard that a service dog has to be trained to perform 3 or more tasks to mitigate that disability - I've heard they only need to be trained to one task, but I'd go with the 3, as that sounds more plausible. First, do I qualify as having a disability under the ADA guidelines? I often have meltdowns, in which I become more or less unresponsive to other people, sometimes even losing the ability to speak for short periods of time. I also tend to get overwhelmed in area with a lot of people or a lot of visual/auditory stimuli, and then I have tunnel vision, and don't really pay attention to my surroundings - I run into people and things a lot when that happens. I also have times when I "space out" and start stimming, and when I'm back in the present I have no idea what I was in the middle of doing before I started. When my alarm clock goes off in the morning, I just don't want to get up. I have 3 separate alarm clocks on 3 different parts of the room, and I still end up turning them all off and missing classes often (I don't miss work, ever...I love my job. I'm so sick of college, though, that I just don't want to do it). When I turn off the alarms, I often find myself sleeping well into the late afternoon/early evening, unless my dog wakes me up to go outside or get fed. I do have a sleep disorder as well (DSPS) but I don't know how much anything contributes to my problem with getting up. It's hard to explain, I don't think I've done a good job at it :/ I just got my own apartment and my own dog 2 months ago (he's a 57 pound boxer, approximately 1 year old, he's a rescued stray). Ever since then, I have not had a full-blown meltdown, so the dog's doing some good as it is just being a pet. I do plan on training some tasks whether or not he can ever be a true service dog - nothing's stopping me from training him to make sure I get up when the alarm goes off, as that doesn't require access anywhere. Some tasks I'd like to train for are waking me up when the alarm sounds, sitting/leaning on me to shorten the intensity and duration of a meltdown, touching/pawing/licking me to bring me back from my "spacing out" episodes, leading me to safety when I get overwhelmed and start to have tunnel vision, and of course just being there to ease anxiety (though this I understand does not count as a task - more of a fringe benefit). Would the alarm clock thing even count as a task, seeing as it's done only in the home? I'm also considering him to remind me to eat, as there are times I plain forget to eat - it's not that I'm not hungry or don't want to eat, I'm just too focused on other things. All right, now that I've gone on and on...how do I know if I qualify for a service dog? Do I need to get a "prescription" from a psychologist/psychiatrist? I do plan on training my current dog for the work if I qualify (I'll be training him regardless of whether or not I qualify, he can still help m around the house even if he's not eligible for access). I do know that a dog doesn't -have- to be certified to be a service dog, nor does it have to be officially identified as one, but still, I don't want to claim to have one if I'm not truly eligible for one. Do I have to have some sort of doctor's approval, and how do I do this? One of my communication issues is not being able to explain my problems orally face-to-face or over the phone. My diagnosis was based not only on an interview and tests but also on a long written account of my difficulties. and as far as training my own, I have experience training dogs, my dad was a professional dog trainer for years and still trains on the side, and one of my best friends is a dog trainer (albeit I only know her online, but I can always ask questions and ask for suggestions). I also plan on getting him enrolled in classes at Petsmart or Petco for socialization ans reinforcing the basics, and regardless of what happens I will have him take the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. If plans as a service dog don't work out, I'd like him to be a therapy dog and take him to schools for special needs kids. Failing that, he still makes an awesome pet ;) So...basically I'm uncertain, and any input at all is welcome. Gah, that's a freaking long question o0 One more thing to add though...another thing I'd like to train him to do (and have already started) is to find the car; I have a terrible working memory, and often when I come out of class I have no idea where I parked it takes a while to find the car. At stores and work it's not bad (at work the parking lot is very, very small, and at stores and at home I usually have a specific area where I park...not possible on campus). No, you don't have to be registered, certified, or anything to train a service dog. Owner-trained dogs are more and more and more common, as program dogs are expensive and there is a long wait. Of course not -every- dog is suitable for service work, though. Service dogs also don't have to be registered o certified, though in my opinion they -should- be. I also think the should be identified, but it's not required. I don't understand the whole concept of not identifying a service dog s such because you don't want people to know you have a disability; if you have a service dog, it's given that you have a disability, so it's a flawed argument. Anyway....*steps off soapbox* And service dogs are not -just- guide dogs. Service dogs are required to be allowed access just like any guide dog, regardless of what disability they are helping with, as long as they meet the criteria for service dog and their owner meets the criteria to have one - that's where my question comes in.

Asked By: Strange Angel - 10/25/2008
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
Discuss with your medical caregivers whether you are disabled. While disability under the ADA is a legal, rather than medical determination, until you appear in court and are judged to be disabled the best you can do is gather medical documentation in support of the claim of disability... More
Answered By: Kirsten R - 10/25/2008
Additional Answers (2)
That's a really tough question to answer. If I were you, I would ask a therapist or a social worker. They would have better insight on what to do.
Answered By: Dustin - 10/25/2008
 
It sounds like you have put a lot of thought into this... More
Answered By: asylumescapee69 - 10/25/2008
 
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