Main content

Alert message

TX SenseAbilities - Spring 2018

By William Daugherty, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Abstract:  The author shared information on the school’s strategic planning session to determine how the school will continue to meet its mission.

Key Words: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), blind, visually impaired, strategic planning

In June of 2017, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) held a strategic planning session with statewide stakeholders to help the school make decisions on how to best meet its mission over the next several years. The large group that gathered on the campus was comprised of educators, parents, adult service providers, consumer organizations, graduates of TSBVI, and members of the school's Board of Trustees. The day was largely devoted to what is working well at TSBVI; what outside trends, factors and challenges the school should attend to; and how the school might improve its programs and services. The next day, the TSBVI Board of Trustees met with the school's administration to review the previous day's input and to come forward with ideas of their own.

It was very gratifying for TSBVI to hear from its stakeholders how much they valued the school and its mission both on its campus and through its statewide outreach services. Among the many statewide challenges noted by the group included concerns about educational and federal funding; the growth in the number of students with multiple disabilities; high caseload numbers among teachers and specialists; rapid changes in technology; and post-school outcomes for all students. The discussion of how TSBVI could improve its services garnered ideas on helping ISD diagnostic teams better evaluate students; increasing expertise in autism; finding ways to support early childhood learning; and reaching out to general education teachers on how to make curriculum and instruction more accessible.

TSBVI has a statewide mission, and many of the stakeholders voiced statewide issues as noted above. While there were challenges and concerns brought forward by the group that are largely outside of TSBVI's sphere of influence, for example Medicaid funding, the majority of statewide issues noted have already found their way into the plans and activities of the school and its collaborative partners in the Education Service Centers, teacher training programs, parent groups, and others. Take for example the issue of large caseloads among Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) in Texas school districts. TSBVI hosts a statewide group called the Texas Action Committee that, under the leadership of Dr. Rona Pogrund of Texas Tech University, developed a tool called the Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity of Texas (VISSIT). While not developed to establish caseload numbers for TVI's, the VISSIT does help TVI's establish the amount of services and supports individual students need based upon their learning requirements. Ultimately, this helps schools determine their staffing needs in the area of visual impairment and blindness.

Overall, TSBVI was encouraged to hear how much the school's current statewide efforts and plans aligned with the issues that the statewide stakeholders identified. This is likely due in large part to the fact that TSBVI has such a connected statewide presence among parents and educators that their issues have long been informing the type of programs and services the school develops and provides. Inputs on the school's two campus-based programs, Comprehensive Programs and Short-Term Programs, also indicated that TSBVI is largely on the right track. Among the recommendations for Comprehensive Programs was the need to achieve better post-school outcomes (higher education, employment, community living) and to improve the transition process for students returning to their local school districts. Recommendations for Short-Term Programs included more program options and finding ways to serve more students with complex learning needs such as those who are DeafBlind. 

The TSBVI Strategic Plan is still a work in progress, but here is a representative sample of what it will likely contain.

  • TSBVI will increase its statewide capacity to provide on-line training for parents, educators and students over a wide range of topics.
  • The school will work with its collaborative partners in the ESC's to provide more training supports to diagnosticians and school psychologists regarding the impact of visual impairment on learning needs.
  • The school will establish a Low Vision Clinic on its campus in order to help students maximize their visual efficiency for learning, daily living and recreation.

TSBVI also has a number of internal needs that fall into the strategic plan. Sufficient legislative funding for the school is a perennial concern. In addition, having an effective and efficient staff development system is essential for the school to provide a state-of-the-art education in a setting that includes instruction both during the day and during residential, after-school hours.

For any Tx SenseAbilities readers who participated in the strategic planning session, TSBVI owes you a large debt of gratitude. You made a valuable contribution to this process and demonstrated why Texas is among the best in the nation when it comes to statewide collaboration that lifts all boats. Thanks!

TX SenseAbilities - Spring 2018 

By Marnee Loftin

Abstract:  This article explores how to identify problems with and help move towards abstract thinking in children with visual impairments.  It was originally published on Marnee Loftin’s blog on www.pathstoliteracy.org.

Key Words: Abstract thinking, concrete thinking, problem solving, cognitive abilities, cognition, generalization, concept development, creative play, dramatic play, teaching.

Editor's note: Marnee Loftin is a retired psychologist who worked for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for 28 years. She maintains a small consultant practice that provides psychological and educational evaluation of children with Visual Impairment as well as doing workshops. To continue to benefit from Loftins wealth of knowledge, visit: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blogs/marnee-loftin Marnee Loftin’s book, Making Evaluation Meaningful, originally published in 2006, is being updated and should be completed by early summer of 2018. Meaningful evaluation depends on the on the knowledge and ability of staff to administer and interpret results. Evaluation and assessment results are essential to provide a foundation for the educational planning process. This publication provides guidance to evaluation personnel, teachers of students with visual impairments, and families in making the best possible decisions regarding student evaluation.

Maria is a second grader who currently uses braille for most of her learning, but supplements the materials with audiotapes. She was quite successful in first grade and was often complimented on her amazing memory.  Maria could often quote stories verbatim and quickly answered each of the questions posed by the teacher. It is now the end of second grade and Maria’s teacher is quite concerned about her difficulty with comprehension of stories.  Maria is able to provide a great deal of specific details about the stories. While she can list the name of different people in the story as well as the specific action taken, she is not able to state why a particular action occurred or the overall meaning of the story. For example, when reading a story about elephants and the problems they experience in captivity, Maria is apt to only understand that elephants often perform in circuses. There is concern that Maria might have a specific learning disability.

Maria is exhibiting some difficulties in school that are often noted in children with visual impairment.  As the world (and academic tasks) becomes more complex, they begin to experience more difficulties in performing at their potential. These problems may be related to a specific learning disability or cognitive abilities. However, it may also be a problem in moving from concrete to abstract ways of thinking. 

What do the terms "concrete thinking" and "abstract thinking" really mean?  

Psychologists have long recognized that children essentially learn “how to think” about objects and events as they develop and mature. The young child tends to think of their world in concrete ways. They learn facts and information about objects and experiences they have actually encountered in their world. The emphasis in concrete thinking is often on recitation of facts. Typically, the child gathers a great deal of information, but it all focuses upon learning about the single item or experience. For example, a young child will easily recognize that their stuffed animal is called a “dog” and will slowly add more information to this single concept. Concrete thinking represents a level of thought that is most often focused upon gathering pieces of information and reciting it back to others. Maria’s ability to demonstrate skills such as a recall of facts about a story is an example of a child who is engaged in concrete thinking.  

In abstract thinking, children learn to engage in problem solving or truly “thinking” about their world. It allows a child to develop ways to classify objects and experiences. It also allows a child to begin to deal with concepts that are not immediately present in their world. This type of thinking is the reason that children can answer questions that require them to draw their own conclusions from specific material that has been learned previously. For example, abstract thinking allows a child to broaden the concept of “dog” to a broader concept of animals. It also allows them to add new information to a previously-learned concept, e.g. animals can be household pets or wild animals. Children develop the ability to master new concepts that they have not directly experienced, e.g. understanding the meaning of freedom. Maria’s difficulty in answering questions about the theme of the particular passage about elephants represents a difficulty in abstract thinking.  

How do children move to abstract thinking? Is it automatic or does it need to be taught?  

The young child moves from concrete thinking to abstract thinking as they begin to experience their world. As they acquire more concepts, they are able to mentally sort through these concepts and identify similarities and differences. They become more able to predict how new situations might develop. Abilities to predict the outcome of events become more sophisticated. Many of these things happen simply as a result of experiences and interacting with their environment. However, there are some issues that affect this movement into abstract thinking that do not seem to be related to experiences.  

What are these other issues that affect moving into abstract thinking?

There is also a great deal of research that suggests that some of these skills will not simply develop as the result of experiences. Cognitive abilities will set some broader limits to the development of abstract thinking. Children with cognitive limitations will experience more difficulty in developing skills in abstract thinking. Some children with cognitive limitations will never develop consistent skills in abstract reasoning; they will always require additional support. Children with superior cognitive abilities will develop these abstract thinking skills at an earlier age and to a more advanced degree. 

Additionally, improvement in abstract thinking is also related to physical changes associated with the brain. Much of the current research in brain biology stresses the importance of the later development of the frontal area of the brain, a critical factor in abstract thinking. Research indicates that most of the abilities that we associate with abstract thinking are a function of the frontal lobe in the brain. This area of the brain does not fully develop until the early 20’s, explaining some of the difficulties with decision-making noted with teenagers.  

Can we control the extent to which a child develops the ability to exhibit abstract thinking?

Some limits are present on our ability to impact the development of abstract thinking. These are most often imposed by three factors. The first is the environmental experiences of the child. The child who has little opportunity to interact with their environment, as well as little stimulation in thinking about different situations, implications, and concepts, is likely to be delayed in development. Again, both the internal cognitive abilities of a child and his physical maturity will determine some outer limits for abstract thinking. Even as adults, we demonstrate significant differences in our abilities to engage in abstract thinking. For example, many college students will struggle with understanding the meaning of a particular poem. Concepts of physics may be difficult for others who prefer types of learning that are based upon repetitive pieces of information.  

Are there special issues associated with visual impairment?

Children with visual impairments (VI) often have additional difficulties in developing these skills in abstract thinking. Little research has occurred to determine the possible reasons for this. However, it is frequently noted as a problem once children with VI begin to move out of the early primary grades. As with Maria, the child who has been quite proficient at answering questions about stories in the first grade begins to have difficulty in the second and third grade. The expectations for proficiency have changed. Children are asked to engage in behaviors such as problem solving, as well as making inferences for different characters. This is often a difficult transition and period of learning for children with VI. 

How do I know that educational performance is being impacted?  

Both parents and teachers often recognize these difficulties for the child with VI. It is often noted when children are in the second grade. Prior to that time, most tasks involve asking a child to answer a series of questions about an activity or story. Typically, these questions involve gaining simple information about who performed an activity and what happened as a result. Often the child with VI has a superior memory and is quite successful in answering these questions about specific information provided. However, by the second grade, questions begin to encompass more abstract qualities, as well as the basic exchange of information. The concern is often expressed that a child can answer any number of questions about “who” or “what” might have occurred in a story. However, the child often has difficulty in responding to the question of “why” this might have happened.   

Why does this seem to be an issue for children with VI? 

Again, there is little research that examines this issue. However, several issues seem to be relevant to the discussion. The first is related to the vision itself. Often children develop the ability to generalize simply from observing and experiencing the world. The child with vision is able to play with both dogs and cats, observe the similarities as well as the differences, and develop the more abstract concept of “animals” and “household pets.” The child with VI will need to be taught these differences. This typically requires a different type of learning that requires more time and intervention on the part of the adult.   

Often the difficulties are made even more apparent through differences in the instructional process. Adults are often eager to provide a great deal of information about a concept in order to help a child with VI understand a particular word or concept. For example, a parent might provide a great deal of information about the word “fort” indicating that it was surrounded by walls, had cannons, was staffed by soldiers, etc. However, they do not provide information about the general concept of a fort being used for defense or protection. The information uniting these descriptors is often not provided. The child may not have a general idea of the purpose of the fort or ways in which it is related to things that they might experience in their lives, e.g. ways that it relates to a current military base or police station. It is true that the child with VI needs a great deal of specific information to broaden their awareness of a concept. However, it is equally important that the broader concepts be introduced as well as related to previously-encountered learning. 

Additionally, creative play is a crucial factor in beginning the process of abstract thinking. Some of the first examples of abstract thinking occur when a child is engaged in creative play. A child realizes that the plastic teapot may be recognized as a coffee pot and that tipping the pot allows a stream of imaginary coffee to be poured. For the first time, objects that are not present in their life are represented and “thought about.” This is typically considered to be the original step toward moving into abstract thinking. Typically, creative play is a challenge for children with significant visual impairment. It does not seem to occur spontaneously for most children and must be actively taught. 

Now I know that there is a problem…how can I help my child?  Or even better…how do I avoid the problem?  

There are many different types of skills that need to be mastered. However, the following items identify some of the critical factors that help move from concrete to abstract thinking. All children require the ability to complete the following tasks:

  • Engage in problem solving
  • Identify similarities within disparate objects
  • Plan and sequence a series of tasks to a reasonable conclusion
  • Identify and evaluate possible solutions to problems

The immediate reaction is often to simply help a child determine “why” something might have occurred through an additional series of questions. However, we often misunderstand that the ability to answer these types of questions is based upon some previously-mastered skills. Unless the child has developed these other skills, teaching the answer to a “why” question will be difficult. Children may quickly develop a rote answer to “why” questions that does not reflect true understanding of the concept.   

Development of skills in answering these “why” questions will require a base of other earlier skills in thinking. Many skills form the basis of abstract thinking. Developing each of these skills will help a child become successful in movement from concrete to abstract thinking. It is always ideal when the child with VI learns these skills at approximately the same age as their sighted peers. However, even for the older child, it will be important to attempt to develop the identified skills if currently missing.     

What activities will help develop these skills?

Movement into the process of abstract thinking remains a developmental process. Although some suggest that it cannot simply be taught, there are a multitude of activities that will encourage a child in development of this skill. These activities form a basis for development of these skills, as well as an impetus to move along the continuum toward the development of abstract thinking. A few of these suggestions are listed below. 

  1. Encourage dramatic play with use of real, as well as representational, items.  Begin by focusing upon familiar stories and previous experiences. Continue by acting out how future events might unfold.  
  2. Develop new stories to be acted out using these items. Encourage the format of beginning, middle and end of a story.
  3. Give words to your own thoughts. When you prepare a meal or an activity, verbalize in brief comments the steps that you are taking.
  4. When solving a particular problem, provide words to describe the steps that you are taking to solve the problem. Keep the language short, but clearly related to your solution.  
  5. Try to get your child to think of new ways to use a familiar object. For example, ask about different ways that you can use a bedspread or pillows. Ask a child to consider different ways that you might use a single egg that is in the refrigerator.  
  6. Use everyday situations and ask a child to “think about” reasons that it occurred and possible solutions. For example, if you are out of milk, ask child to develop ways that you can deal with the problem. Ask about ways that you might avoid the problem. Keep the problems simple and relevant to everyday situations.  
  7. Help your child think of analogies in relationship to everyday life or favorite books. Ask the child to identify stories that remind him/her of the current story. For example, what book has he read that also reminds him/her of the story about pigs. Identify the similarities between the two books or ask the child to clarify his/her thinking.  
  8. Develop problem-solving skills that can be used in multiple situations. With the older child, encourage comparing one situation to another that has been experienced. Provide structure, such as asking who was involved, what occurred, what might have been other responses, how other responses might have impacted the situation. Keep questioning to a minimum, but help the child see how different responses might have occurred. Evaluate the efficiency of these responses in relationship to the situation, i.e. “Did it help solve a problem?”
  9. When teaching abstract concepts, employ the thinking-aloud strategies used at an earlier age. Talk through your explanation, stopping at discrete steps. Try to compare abstract concepts to real-life situations. For example, when discussing different branches of government, relate these branches to aspects of a family. Be sure to summarize the specific ways in which they are alike, as well as different. 
  10. Realize that it is much easier for a child to focus upon ways in which situations, objects, or concepts are different.  Encourage them to look for similarities, even in items or events that are quite different on the surface. Use real objects at the beginning, so that similarities will be obvious. For example, ask the child to determine ways in which a flower and a carrot are the same.  
  11. Talk about ways in real life that experiences are the same as one another. Start with experiences that have many similarities and move to experiences that are seemingly quite different. For example, talk about the similarities between a trip to the store and a trip to the dentist. 
  12. Encourage creative thinking in determining similarities between these situations, objects, or concepts. Perhaps develop one list that could be considered “Silly Similarities”, as well as one that is more reality-bound.   
  13. Avoid the tendency to ask a number of “why” questions. If you do ask these questions, help the child by “thinking aloud” as you determine possible answers. Help the child understand that there are often multiple answers to this question. This not only encourages abstract reasoning, but also helps build creativity. For example, instead of beginning by asking the child “Why do we have to clean up water that has spilled on the floor?”, provide multiple reasons, such as "We need to clean up the water that spilled on the floor because someone might slip". Begin with this type of concrete example of response to “why” questions, rather than abstract ones, such as “Why do the stars twinkle?”
  14. Help the child to evaluate the “success” of a particular experience. This helps identify the emotions that the child is feeling, as well as giving a sense of independence from the feelings of others. Prior to this activity, help the child develop a limited number of characteristics (i.e. no more than 4) of a successful (or pleasurable) activity.  
  15. Plan a party together. Divide responsibilities into four parts, e.g. planning, inviting, hosting, and cleanup. Ask the child to determine 3 different activities within each of these responsibilities. After the party is completed, ask the child to review the responsibilities. Which tasks were not necessary? Which tasks should have been included?  

Development of abstract thinking skills is a critical factor in ensuring academic success, as well as in dealing with the complexities of life. Support from parents as well as teachers is essential if a child with VI is to reach his/her potential to live as independently as possible. Intervention is most effective when problems are recognized, interventions are planned, and both teachers and parents are consistent in implementation of strategies.  

TX SenseAbilities - Spring 2018

By Molly Black and Patti McGowan, Pennsylvania Deaf-Blind Project Family Consultants

Abstract: The authors, both parents of young adults who are DeafBlind, share their advice for parents being effective partners in their children’s educational team.

Keywords: Family Wisdom, Special Education, DeafBlindness, Visual Impairment, Effective Partnership, Self-Determination, Transition Planning

Dear parent or family member of a child or youth with deaf-blindness, 

We want you to know that you are the most important person on your child’s individualized education program (IEP) team. You are the most consistent IEP team member and you know the student (your child) the best! Set extraordinary expectations for both your child and your team. Allow the IEP to tell your child’s story, set high goals, and utilize your child’s strengths to support and overcome any weaknesses that may be discussed during your child’s IEP meeting.

Your child’s unique and specific needs, not his or her disability classification, should drive the IEP discussion. Keep in mind that you are the expert on your child. Be prepared to share your triumphs, challenges, hopes, dreams, observations, and concerns. Success for your child should be the goal of all IEP team members while developing your child’s IEP.

If your child already has an IEP, make sure you review and familiarize yourself with his or her current IEP prior to the meeting. If your child does not yet have an IEP and is currently not receiving services, talk to other parents and families of children with DeafBlindness about related services and supports that have been beneficial to their child. Your child may attend and be present at his or her IEP at any age, when appropriate. In Pennsylvania at age 14, your child has the right and should fully participate in his or her IEP and be a valuable member of the IEP team.

An IEP meeting can be requested and held at any time during the school year, if necessary. Having regular team meetings (e.g., monthly, quarterly) in addition to your IEP meeting, to discuss progress or concerns can be advantageous for the entire team.

Having a strong IEP team and practical goals supported by educational services will allow your child to develop, learn, and be successful and happy. The IEP process can certainly be daunting at times, so hopefully the following links will help you during your own IEP “season.” Remember – knowledge is power!

Editors’ Note: Molly and Patti’s original article included resources specific to their state. They invited us to share our favorites for Texas:

Special Education Resources:

  • SpedTex Special Education Information Center:  available: www.spedtx.org The Texas Special Education Information Center (SPEDTex) delivers accurate and timely answers to questions about special education to stakeholders across the state of Texas. Our purpose is to optimize information and respond with technical assistance in a succinct and useful format that is user friendly, culturally responsive, and accessible to all individuals. SPEDTex provides supportive state-wide leadership that promotes collaboration, meaningful communication and participation in the development and delivery of services to children with disabilities.
  • Parent Handbook for Special Education by Region 13 Education Service Center: Available: http://www4.esc13.net/uploads/facilitatingIEPs/docs/SPED_ParentHandbook.pdf
    This handbook is intended to give parents a basic grounding in the special education process and the use of collaborative strategies and facilitation skills and techniques to improve that process.
  • IDEA Manual, A Guide for Parents and Students About Special Education Services in Texas, 2016 Edition:
    available: https://www.thearcoftexas.org/idea-manual/
    The newest version of what has become known as The IDEA Manual. This manual is designed to help families become familiar with the requirements of IDEA and Texas law so they can act as an equal partner in planning their child’s education.
  • 2017 Guidelines and Standards for Educating Students with Visual Impairments in Texas available: http://www.tsbvi.edu/attachments/EducatingStudentswithVIGuidelinesStandards.pdf This document highlights legal requirements In Special Education for Texas that are specific to students with visual impairment or DeafBlindness
  • Websites designed for parents that include Special Education topics:
    • Texas Project First: texasprojectfirst.org
    • Navigate Life Texas: www.navigatelifetexas.org
    • Parent Companion – the first five years: www.parentcompanion.org
    • Crossroads: texasdeafed.org

TX SenseAbilities - Spring 2018

By Rachel Simpson, Family Engagement Specialist, TSBVI

Abstract: This article contains some basic information about the use of service dogs, therapy/facility dogs and emotional support dogs.

Keywords: service dog, therapy/facility dog, emotional support dog, dog handler, responsibilities 

What is a service animal?

The Americans with Disabilities Act states that a Service Animal is any animal that has been trained to provide assistance specifically for the benefit of a person with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits one or more of the person’s major life functions. The description in Texas legislation mirrors the federal description, including the stipulation that the service animal must perform tasks that are directly related to the person’s disability.

What legislation supports the right to use a service animal?

Texas law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act guarantee the right of a person who is blind or has other disabilities to be accompanied by a trained service animal in all public places. The most recent legislation in Texas was passed in 2013 and speaks to the rights and responsibilities of people who use service animals.

What type of animal can be a service animal?

Texas law states specifically that a “service animal” or “assistance animal” must be a canine. In some states, miniature horses can be used if certain criteria are met. 

What types of disabilities must a person have to use a service dog?  

The first type of service dog was a guide dog (or dog guide) which is used by a person who is blind or visually impaired. Today, people with many different types of disabilities use service dogs. There are now service dogs for many different disabilities, such as:

  • Blindness/Visual Impairment
  • Mobility Impairment
  • Hearing Impairment or Deafness
  • Autism
  • Psychiatric Disabilities
  • Medical conditions, including diabetes and seizures. 

Who can train a service dog?

The current law allows for a person to train their own dog, go through a private trainer or attend a program at a service dog school. As a previous service dog user, I have gone through a private trainer and a service dog school to get a trained service dog and found advantages in each method. I do not know anyone who trained their own dog.

Because guide dog schools have been in existence so much longer, the expectations for the dogs and handlers are more standardized. For other disabilities, the training of service dogs is relatively new. Apparently because of the diverse population served and the relative newness of the field, my experience is that there is much less standardization in dog training and terminology that service dog trainers use, outside of guide dog schools.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a service dog?

The main advantage of having a service dog is that the dog can do the various tasks that help offset the effects of the disability. If you’re a dog lover, having a dog around all the time can be a real perk. In my opinion, the disadvantages are that it can make social situations awkward. In addition, people are drawn to the person with a service dog, but their attention can be disruptive to a typical social situation. The other disadvantage is that you have to take the dog out to relieve it in all kinds of weather. Also, they are not perfect little robots. They are just dogs with their own quirks and personality traits, both good and bad. I’ve had three service dogs, so obviously the positives outweighed the negatives for me. Although my health has improved and I no longer need a service dog, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

What are the responsibilities of the service dog user?

The handler must keep the dog under their control at all times. The handler must have the dog on a leash unless the disability does not allow for lease usage. The handler must relieve the dog regularly and clean up after the dog. The handler must also pay for any damages caused by the animal. The handler pays for all grooming, veterinary care, and gear. The gear can include things like the harness or vest, leash, portable water and food bowls, etc. 

At what age can my child get a service dog?

It depends on what tasks you want the dog to do, who the handler will be, and the guidelines of the individual trainer or school you are using. In most cases, very young children do not serve as dog handlers. The parent is typically the handler for children under 16, but this varies.

Are there other types of support animals?

The terminology varies by region and sometimes by the trainer or school used.

Typically, Therapy or Facility Dogs are those that have been trained with specific commands to provide comfort and affection to people in hospitals, schools and other facilities. You may have heard of reading programs for children in which the children read to the dogs. A dog in that situation would typically be referred to as a Therapy or Facility Dog. This type of dog provides assistance to people in a certain facility, situation (such as a disaster) or program. The dog does not provide services to the handler and does not have access to public places. The dog would only have access to serve people within a designated facility, situation or program.

An Emotional Support Dog is one that provides emotional support and companionship to a person with a disability, just by being a dog. They do not have access to public places except when needed for transportation. In order to use an Emotional Support Dog during a bus ride or during a flight, the person must generally get a recommendation by their physician. The best way to approach this is to learn the guidelines of the bus or airline carrier you are using.

Service Dog Etiquette: To Pet or Not to Pet

Although it varies by the needs/preferences of the service dog handler, the standard is not to pet or give attention to the service animal. If the dog is interacting with you, it is distracted from helping the handler and will limit the handler’s ability to accomplish his/her task.  In addition, it can result in an injury to the dog or handler.

I hope this article has provided you with some basic information to help you decide if a service dog may be of assistance to your child or if it merits further investigation.

Rachel and her service dog, Ruby at Palo Duro Canyon.  Ruby is wearing her red service dog vest
Photo of Rachel and her service dog, Ruby at Palo Duro Canyon. Ruby is wearing her red service dog vest