Worried about access issues of my SD in Training at my university! - Page 2

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Worried about access issues of my SD in Training at my university!

This is a discussion on Worried about access issues of my SD in Training at my university! within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; Originally Posted by BristolGivesMeHope Thank you. I have actually been attending this college for 2 years now, but had to do a medical withdrawal last ...

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Old 07-06-2014, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by BristolGivesMeHope View Post
Thank you. I have actually been attending this college for 2 years now, but had to do a medical withdrawal last semester and failed some classes the semester before. I received a head injury June 2013 that put me in the hospital and gave me some severe issues that I still deal with. On top of this, I had priorly dealt with depression and anxiety from childhood and adult traumas. The head injury increased my symptoms until I was diagnosed with PTSD in September.

So thankfully I am familiar with the campus, it will just be a new start for me and hopefully having Bristol to help with my issues from PTSD and some dizziness issues from the head injury, I will be able to pick my grades back up.

I am hoping to slowly meet and befriend more people, all though it will be a slow progress. Having Bristol will help I am sure. Not just in socializing, but also showing me I can be around people (mainly guys) without being terrified. She is not aggressive at all, however she is very quick to get between me and certain people i have noticed. This does help with my hyper vigilance. Before getting her, I never wanted to get out of bed and I dissociated most of the time. She now gives me something to focus on and goals to set for each day, even if it's just taking care of her needs and wants.

She has already started alerting me on her own when I am becoming anxious or dissociated, sometimes before I really notice it. I have trained her how to properly alert me via nosing my arm or leg and then pawing me if that doesn't work. She also knows how to apply deep pressure therapy which helps with panic attacks and flashbacks. I also dare say 90% of the time, she is touching my leg with some part of her body. This helps with keeping me from dissociating as well as when I have dizziness issues, it helps center/balance me. If she is not doing this automatically, I have trained a cue for her to do so.

Overall I am optimistic for the first time in over a year that I will be able to get back on track and go after my dreams. I know I have many challenges ahead, but I will get through it one day at a time and having Bristol makes those days easier and sometimes just possible!
Whoops--sorry. I guess I assumed that since your dog would be new to campus, you would be too.

I would make one other small suggestion, from my perspective as a professor. For any student with special ADA needs, we're notified of his/her special needs at the beginning of the semester. Some semesters, that may mean no notifications at all, but other times, there are many notifications. I find it helpful if a student who needs some kind of assistance--a notetaker; a separate, quiet room in which to take exams etc.--reminds me of what he/she needs, especially if it's something that might need extra scheduling (like finding a separate room for exams). You don't have to go into a lot of medical details if you're not comfortable doing that. I always assume that anyone's health history is his/her own business. But if, say, you might need to leave the room suddenly for some reason, and you explained that to the teacher ahead of time, then it won't be a surprise when it happens and your professors could help you make is simpler for you by making sure you had a seat near a door (or that your seat was near an aisle, if it would make it more comfortable for your dog to have a little extra room).

I'd also be perfectly willing to let a student take a few minutes to explain to the class that his/her dog is an assistance dog and how the other students need to respond to that--not distracting the dog, for instance or only petting him if they ask first (or not at all while he's working, if that's what the student preferred). However, whether you think that's necessary or whether you'd be comfortable doing that is up to you. Heck, if I had a student who needed that information passed on to the class but was shy about doing it, I'd also be perfectly happy to pass on the information myself.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:55 PM
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Whoops--sorry. I guess I assumed that since your dog would be new to campus, you would be too.

I would make one other small suggestion, from my perspective as a professor. For any student with special ADA needs, we're notified of his/her special needs at the beginning of the semester. Some semesters, that may mean no notifications at all, but other times, there are many notifications. I find it helpful if a student who needs some kind of assistance--a notetaker; a separate, quiet room in which to take exams etc.--reminds me of what he/she needs, especially if it's something that might need extra scheduling (like finding a separate room for exams). You don't have to go into a lot of medical details if you're not comfortable doing that. I always assume that anyone's health history is his/her own business. But if, say, you might need to leave the room suddenly for some reason, and you explained that to the teacher ahead of time, then it won't be a surprise when it happens and your professors could help you make is simpler for you by making sure you had a seat near a door (or that your seat was near an aisle, if it would make it more comfortable for your dog to have a little extra room).

I'd also be perfectly willing to let a student take a few minutes to explain to the class that his/her dog is an assistance dog and how the other students need to respond to that--not distracting the dog, for instance or only petting him if they ask first (or not at all while he's working, if that's what the student preferred). However, whether you think that's necessary or whether you'd be comfortable doing that is up to you. Heck, if I had a student who needed that information passed on to the class but was shy about doing it, I'd also be perfectly happy to pass on the information myself.

thank you again for the extra advice! I hope most of my professors have your mentality about the issue!

I have registered for accommodations with the Disability Support Services and I normally send my professors a letter from the DSS with a list of accommodations a week or so prior to the semester starting and then set up an appointment to discuss if needed. My accommodations are:

Allowed to record lectures
Allowance to do a different objective project in place of speeches.
extra allowance of absences due to disability within reason.
Brief breaks if needed during class
preferential seating
Allowance to take exams at DSS office.


and now even though it wasn't necessary, I had them add service animal to the list. Because my disabilities are invisible (PTSD, migraines, and dizziness) a lot of people either think I am a trainer or a fake.

I shared similar ideas with my DSS counselor and I plan to meet with my professors prior to class starting. I want to discuss where is going to be best for me to sit. I know that some people are afraid of dogs or allergic, so sitting right by the door might not be good for them entering, but good for if I need to step out. Sitting in the back but by an aisle would be less distracting, but harder to get out plus I tend to dissociate and sitting in the back wouldn't help. So we would need to work out the details of that. The idea of talking to the class is a good idea, but I will definitely need my professor to do it because I get EXTREME anxiety when talking in front of a class…to the point I forget to breathe!

I would want it shared that my dog is a "medical alert" dog and she will periodically climb up onto my lap to check in with me; so that this doesn't distract the class. I do not want anyone petting her right now because she is still in training and it gets her distracted. Along with not petting, just in general ignoring her and not making eye contact with her on purpose.

Thanks for the advice!
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:40 AM
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I was just talking about service animals with the woman in charge of student academic services on our campus, and she mentioned that she knew for certain that one psychology professor on our campus had announced to the class in which a student with a service dog was enrolled that while the dog was very beautiful and well-trained and that we (including the professor herself) would all love to pet her, we had to remember that she was a working dog and let her do her job. That pretty much did the trick; everyone left the dog alone and eventually became so accustomed to her being there that she just became another inhabitant of the classroom. It probably took the professor all of a couple of minutes to make that announcement, and she was happy to do it.

I would imagine that your professors would be particularly grateful if you spoke to them--or even e-mailed them, if speaking to them individually would be stressful--about your special circumstances, particularly if you need to have different assignments designed for you to replace in class presentations. Not every class has those, but for those that do, if the professor has to design a different option for you, it's going to be very helpful to know what kind of project would be more feasible for you and still fulfill the basic objectives of the original assignment. Otherwise he/she could come up with a different assignment only to find out it wouldn't be any more appropriate for your needs than the speech would be.
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