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In another forum, we were talking about a situation where a deaf teen had been given a support dog by their parents. Although the majority of deaf people do not use dogs, this teen's parents felt the dog could alert the person to loud noises (alarms, shouts) that the teen might not normally hear.

So the parents' thoughts were that if a fire alarm went off, and the teen were somehow alone (maybe in the bathroom?) that they would know there was an issue. You would imagine if the teen were in a classroom with other kids that it would be obvious there was something going on. You would also assume that if the teen were anywhere with people that you would want the teen following the other people whereever they went - not relying on a dog to know the best / proper route out.

The problem is that asthma is a HUGE issue right now - the #1 cause for emergency room visits for kids. So having a dog introduced into a school environment poses an immediate health risk for all those children. The "downside" is sickness and perhaps death for multiple children. The "upside" is if that one deaf teen ends up alone in an emergency, he would get an alert of the emergency.

Apparently there is less than one death a year at schools related to fires. In comparison, 73 people a year die from lightning strikes. So we're not talking about a "sort of uncommon" issue. We're talking about an "exceedingly unlikely to happen" issue. It would be like having the deaf teen wear a lightning protection outfit every day - "just in case". What are the real chances of the teen being alone that 1% of the time they are in the bathroom and that is exactly when a dangerous fire strikes their building? If this is a real fear, then why not put flashing lights in all the bathrooms?

And if the parents are that worried about their teen, why is he not in a lightning-proof outfit, which is 73 times more likely to happen?

People tend to focus on "perceived extreme threats" rather than typical threats. Just look at how many people are afraid of flying - vs how many people are overweight or obese and take little action about it. You are far more likely to die from obesity issues than from being in an airplane. People latch onto sensational death issues and ignore the daily, ever-present ones.

Which leads me to the core underlying issue - how do we lay out our policies which affect disabilities and health? Do we bias towards people with "extreme" / "unusual" situations - to the severe detriment of others with less "exciting" issues which are patently more dangerous?

Last edited by Lisa Low Carb Ed; 04/20/08 01:58 PM.

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I think that each and every person has the right to their individual pursuit of happiness.

If it makes the parents happy to give their deaf teen a support dog, great! Make it a hairless breed or no-shed poodle or bichon, and the odds are good that no kids with asthma will have problems. Sure, the teen might not want to be caught dead with a hairless dog that looks a bit like a rat on a leash, but who is to say?

As far as fear of flying and obesity is concerned, fear�just like intelligence�cannot be legislated or reasoned with. It just �is.�

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Originally Posted By: Lisa Low Carb Ed
In another forum, we were talking about a situation where a deaf teen had been given a support dog by their parents. Although the majority of deaf people do not use dogs, this teen's parents felt the dog could alert the person to loud noises (alarms, shouts) that the teen might not normally hear.

So the parents' thoughts were that if a fire alarm went off, and the teen were somehow alone (maybe in the bathroom?) that they would know there was an issue. You would imagine if the teen were in a classroom with other kids that it would be obvious there was something going on. You would also assume that if the teen were anywhere with people that you would want the teen following the other people whereever they went - not relying on a dog to know the best / proper route out.

The problem is that asthma is a HUGE issue right now - the #1 cause for emergency room visits for kids. So having a dog introduced into a school environment poses an immediate health risk for all those children. The "downside" is sickness and perhaps death for multiple children. The "upside" is if that one deaf teen ends up alone in an emergency, he would get an alert of the emergency.


There is a greater possibility that the service dog provides greater support to the deaf student than alerting the individual to loud noises like fire alarms. Teens crave independence and those who have disabilities deserve accommodations for a full range of access issues that reporters would not consider.

There is a disability hierarchy that causes a great deal of protest and argument within the community of people with disabilities and their families. I have grown up aware of asthma issues because people in my family have struggled with asthma, so I understand the advocates who want to keep schools free of furry animals. However, I am also aware that there are many triggers for asthma and treatments for attacks that are not dog-related. There are options besides forbidding service dogs in schools.

Children bring peanut butter sandwiches in their lunch bags even though they may have classmates with peanut allergies - it is up to the school to provide peanut free tables in the lunch room.

Likewise, we cannot insist that people who use service dogs use only canines that are hypoallergenic, or trade in their companion dogs for breeds that are hypoallergenic. Instead of breaking into groups for one side or against another, we can figure out how to accommodate the needs of students with asthma as well as those who have service dogs.

A service dog could wear a cotton cloth barrier over its fur, and dog-free pathways could be marked with subtle paintlines so the deaf student and the students with asthma would know where they would be considerate or safe.

It is not beyond our imagination to assume that when a child with asthma has an attack, he or she will mention there was a dog in the vicinity, when the trigger was actually something that the child with asthma does not want to own up to or admit. Most asthma-related E.R. visits are likely to be related to a poorly followed 504 plan at school or unexpected activities or 'opportunities' in extra-curricular activities than contact with canines.

Because service dogs are quite rare in schools, the statistics about E.R. visits support this observation. Instead of assuming that the introduction of a service dog will increase risk of hospitalization, I'd guess that schools with a service dog on campus would pay closer attention to the needs of students with asthma.

My son has insulin-dependent diabetes, and must carry juice, snacks and insulin with him wherever he goes. A case had to go up to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to support his right to have these emergency items with him at entertainment and sports venues and other places where 'outside' food and drink are not allowed, or where eating and drinking is otherwise not allowed.

He was born with Down syndrome and when he protested the language and characterizations found in the awful movie, Tropic Thunder, movie critics and the writers expressed their outrage that individuals found fault with the demeaning language used excessively throughout the film or with the characters, as the hate language, remarks, and character Simple Jack were created to make fun of actors rather than people with developmental disabilities. Or as Terri Mauro wrote, "Satire means never having to say you're sorry."

People with developmental disabilities barely register in the disability hierarchy, so we were treated to remarks by other disability advocates that echoed the public relations machine from DreamWorks. So I certainly don't expect equal support for or from people with different disabilities, or even from families whose children have similar challenges.

Rather than buying into the controversy that reporters create to sell newspapers, people with disabilities and their families should create alliances so that inclusive, supportive communities are established in every school. Each student deserves to express the diversity of their particular diagnosis and enjoy the 'least restrictive environment' in their communities.

There is also great cultural and racial diversity among children and adults with disabilities, so at least some parents understand the burden of prejudice and discrimination that their children experience. So many access issues are involved for children growing up with physical or developmental disabilities, chronic health conditions or other special needs, we have to remind ourselves that even culturally and ethnically diverse families lack that exact perspective most of the time.

It grieves me to know that twenty years after my son enjoyed an inclusive kindergarten class, families are still being told that five year olds with Down syndrome do not belong and cannot be accommodated in their neighborhood kindergartens and schools. Many children with insulin dependent diabetes are being locked out of their neighborhood schools and bussed to those that offer a full time nurse.

It's a complicated issue that should be thoroughly understood and respectfully discussed, because removing any child from the mainstream of their community life and neighborhood classroom can do terrible harm.

Pam W
SE of Seattle

Originally Posted By: Lisa Low Carb Ed
In another forum, we were talking about a situation where a deaf teen had been given a support dog by their parents. Although the majority of deaf people do not use dogs, this teen's parents felt the dog could alert the person to loud noises (alarms, shouts) that the teen might not normally hear.

So the parents' thoughts were that if a fire alarm went off, and the teen were somehow alone (maybe in the bathroom?) that they would know there was an issue. You would imagine if the teen were in a classroom with other kids that it would be obvious there was something going on. You would also assume that if the teen were anywhere with people that you would want the teen following the other people whereever they went - not relying on a dog to know the best / proper route out.

The problem is that asthma is a HUGE issue right now - the #1 cause for emergency room visits for kids. So having a dog introduced into a school environment poses an immediate health risk for all those children. The "downside" is sickness and perhaps death for multiple children. The "upside" is if that one deaf teen ends up alone in an emergency, he would get an alert of the emergency.


There is a greater possibility that the service dog provides greater support to the deaf student than alerting the individual to loud noises like fire alarms. Teens crave independence and those who have disabilities deserve accommodations for a full range of access issues that reporters would not consider.

There is a disability hierarchy that causes a great deal of protest and argument within the community of people with disabilities and their families. I have grown up aware of asthma issues because people in my family have struggled with asthma, so I understand the advocates who want to keep schools free of furry animals. However, I am also aware that there are many triggers for asthma and treatments for attacks that are not dog-related. There are options besides forbidding service dogs in schools.

Children bring peanut butter sandwiches in their lunch bags even though they may have classmates with peanut allergies - it is up to the school to provide peanut free tables in the lunch room.

Likewise, we cannot insist that people who use service dogs use only canines that are hypoallergenic, or trade in their companion dogs for breeds that are hypoallergenic. Instead of breaking into groups for one side or against another, we can figure out how to accommodate the needs of students with asthma as well as those who have service dogs.

A service dog could wear a cotton cloth barrier over its fur, and dog-free pathways could be marked with subtle paintlines so the deaf student and the students with asthma would know where they would be considerate or safe.

It is not beyond our imagination to assume that when a child with asthma has an attack, he or she will mention there was a dog in the vicinity, when the trigger was actually something that the child with asthma does not want to own up to or admit. Most asthma-related E.R. visits are likely to be related to a poorly followed 504 plan at school or unexpected activities or 'opportunities' in extra-curricular activities than contact with canines.

Because service dogs are quite rare in schools, the statistics about E.R. visits support this observation. Instead of assuming that the introduction of a service dog will increase risk of hospitalization, I'd guess that schools with a service dog on campus would pay closer attention to the needs of students with asthma.

My son has insulin-dependent diabetes, and must carry juice, snacks and insulin with him wherever he goes. A case had to go up to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to support his right to have these emergency items with him at entertainment and sports venues and other places where 'outside' food and drink are not allowed, or where eating and drinking is otherwise not allowed.

He was born with Down syndrome and when he protested the language and characterizations found in the awful movie, Tropic Thunder, movie critics and the writers expressed their outrage that individuals found fault with the demeaning language used excessively throughout the film or with the characters, as the hate language, remarks, and character Simple Jack were created to make fun of actors rather than people with developmental disabilities. Or as Terri Mauro wrote, "Satire means never having to say you're sorry."

People with developmental disabilities barely register in the disability hierarchy, so we were treated to remarks by other disability advocates that echoed the public relations machine from DreamWorks. So I certainly don't expect equal support for or from people with different disabilities, or even from families whose children have similar challenges.

Rather than buying into the controversy that reporters create to sell newspapers, people with disabilities and their families should create alliances so that inclusive, supportive communities are established in every school. Each student deserves to express the diversity of their particular diagnosis and enjoy the 'least restrictive environment' in their communities.

There is also great cultural and racial diversity among children and adults with disabilities, so at least some parents understand the burden of prejudice and discrimination that their children experience. So many access issues are involved for children growing up with physical or developmental disabilities, chronic health conditions or other special needs, we have to remind ourselves that even culturally and ethnically diverse families lack that exact perspective most of the time.

It grieves me to know that twenty years after my son enjoyed an inclusive kindergarten class, families are still being told that five year olds with Down syndrome do not belong and cannot be accommodated in their neighborhood kindergartens and schools. Many children with insulin dependent diabetes are being locked out of their neighborhood schools and bussed to those that offer a full time nurse.

It's a complicated issue that should be thoroughly understood and respectfully discussed, because removing any child from the mainstream of their community life and neighborhood classroom can do terrible harm.

Pam W
SE of Seattle

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