Many people are confused about what service animals are, or what rights people with disabilities have about bringing their service animals to places like buses, restaurants, schools, and other places. Some businesses violate the law when they refuse service to people with service animals out of ignorance, but we can’t demand our rights effectively if we don’t know them better than they do. This guide is designed for people who are interested in going to places with their service animal.
What Are Service Animals?
Service animals must be dogs (with some exceptions) that have been trained to perform a task to assist a person with a disability. They are different from pets, “companion animals,” or “emotional support animals” because they are specifically trained to do something for a person with disability.
Examples of “tasks” given by the Department of Justice include:
- guiding someone who is blind
- alerting someone who is deaf
- pulling a wheelchair for someone
- protecting someone who is having a seizure
- calming someone during an anxiety attack (licking, nuzzling, etc.)
Service animals must be trained to do one of these things (or some other task), but they do not need to be trained by professionals. Some organizations train and certify dogs as “service animals,” but you or your friends and family members can train your own dog as well. There is no requirement for certification or registration for service animals.
What Are My Rights and Responsibilities?
Businesses, government buildings, clinics, and non-profit organizations that other people can enter generally must allow service animals. There are some exceptions, but they are very specific (such as an operating room at a hospital).
Service animals must wear a harness, leash, etc., unless these devices prevent them from working. They must be under control (not barking or making a scene) and must be potty-trained (they are able to hold off until they are in an appropriate place to relieve themselves).
What Are Businesses’ Rights and Responsibilities?
There are only two questions businesses are allowed to ask about someone’s service animal: 1. “Is this a service animal?” and 2. “What work does the animal do?” They cannot ask what disability you have, require documentation of any kind, or make you “prove” that the animal can perform tasks.
Businesses cannot charge extra fees for people with service animals, even if they charge extra for people with non-service pets (hotels, airplanes, etc.). They must allow service animals even if they do not allow other animals (restaurants, grocery stores). They cannot treat people with service animal any worse than they treat other customers.
Businesses can ask people with service animals to leave if the dog is out of control, or the animal is not potty-trained, but not just because someone else is afraid of or allergic to dogs.
Businesses can make people with service animal pay for damages their animals cause only if they would also ask customers without service animals to pay for damages they cause.
What Else Should I Know About Service Animals?
Some people make their service animals wear “service animal” tags, harnesses, or jackets. They are not required, but they might stop other people from questioning if your dog really is a service animal. You can buy them at a pet supply store or online.
This document addresses your rights in most places of “public accommodation.” There are different definitions of “service animal” or “assistance animal” for having service animals in housing (including shelters), or for air travel, which might give you more rights. Talk to your friendly disability justice advocate to find out more!
This document is based on “ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Service Animals” issued by U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. Download the original document, print out a copy and hand it to ignorant businesses to educate them!
meowhissa answered: There was a lot of inner turmoil in the organization. Previous leader bailed, current leader dropped the ball.
Well what happened to the site with the weird picture?
Did it get hacked or something?
Do you have a way to contact the site owners or an alternate site that is as awesome as that site was for psychiatric service dogs?
Young adults, ages 18-25, with no history of exposure to domestic violence, sexual abuse, or parental physical abuse, were asked to rate their childhood exposure to parental and peer verbal abuse when they were children, and then they were given a brain scan.
The results revealed that those individuals who reported experiencing verbal abuse from their peers during middle school years had underdeveloped connections between the left and right sides of their brain through the massive bundle of connecting fibers called the corpus callosum. Psychological tests given to all subjects in the study showed that this same group of individuals had higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger hostility, dissociation, and drug abuse than others in the study.
Verbal abuse from peers during the middle school years had the greatest impact, presumably because this is a sensitive period when these brain connections are developing and becoming insulated with myelin.
The environment that children are raised in molds not only their mind, but also their brain. This is something many long suspected, but now we have scientific instruments that show us how dramatically childhood experience alters the physical structure of the brain, and how sensitive we are as children to these environmental effects. Words—verbal harassment—from peers (and, as a previous study from these researchers showed, verbal abuse from a child’s parents) can cause far more than emotional harm.
AWESOME. THANKS MOM
A lot of conversations are being had in the wake of the horrific shooting that occurred in Connecticut last Friday, when a gunman took the lives of 20 innocent children and seven adults. The United States is having some hard discussions right now, in a year of awful mass shootings and a period of particular tension.
As always in cases of rampage violence, mental illness has been dragged into the mix, and I’ve been watching the Internet for the last three days with a growing sense of both deja vu and horror. None of the things being said are new — all of them are in fact very bone-achingly familiar — and all of them are extremely unhelpful, dangerous and counterproductive.
There are a lot of things I want to say about the artificial linkage between mental illness and violence; it’s a huge subject. But more than that, I want to drill into some of the specific things that have been circulating this weekend, and why they are wrong.
ON VIOLENCE AND MENTAL ILLNESS
Let’s talk about violence and mental illness for a moment, though, because everyone seems to believe that mentally ill people are inherently violent and dangerous, and that only “crazy” people can commit crimes like this. Gunmen in rampage killings like these do indeed tend to fit a profile — one of loner white men who feel disaffected. Some have indeed been in treatment for mental illness at some point, but being mentally ill — even severely mentally ill — doesn’t predispose you to violence.
A lot of anecdotes have been circulating about mental illness — something that affects an estimated 25% of the adult population at any given time — this weekend. The plural of anecdotes, however, is not data. So here’s some hard data on the facts behind mental illness and violence, courtesy of a large number of scientific studies conducted in rigorous conditions and peer-reviewed to determine their applicability, validity, and usefulness.
“The vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses,” says the American Psychiatric Association. Substance abuse is a much bigger risk factor for violent behavior; in people with untreated mental illness (a shockingly large number due to the difficulty involved in accessing services), drug abuse is a confounding factor in acts of violence in many cases, not the underlying mental illness. Socioeconomic status, age, gender and history of violence are also more significant indicators of the risk of violence. In fact, mentally ill people are far more likely to be victims of violence:Despite widespread public fears of dangerous psychotic patients, individuals suffering from severe mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence. One study revealed that they experienced violent victimization at four times the rate of the general population. In another study, 25% of those with severe mental illness were victims of violence as compared to only 3% of the general population (Source).
Your likelihood of being hit by lightning is more probable than that of being killed by someone with schizophrenia, a commonly demonized mental illness. In fact, “violence in the community could be reduced by less than five percent if major mental disorders could be eliminated.”
Each time an incident like this occurs and distancing language blaming it on mental illness and refusing to engage with other social factors is used, society pulls further away from mentally ill people. A study in Germany showed that levels of social acceptance for mentally ill people don’t go back to normal after such events. In other words, the stigma faced by mentally ill people increases every single time there’s a horrific event blamed on mental illness circulating in the public consciousness.
AUTISM AND VIOLENCE
There’s also been a great deal of misinformation circulating about autism spectrum disorders and violence in the wake of speculation about whether the suspected killer might have been on the spectrum. It’s important to note that, one, autism and mental illness are two very different things although comorbidities certainly do occur, and, two, autistic people are not any more inherently violent than mentally ill people. Or anyone else, for that matter.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network notes in a response to the speculation that:Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people. In fact, people with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. Should the shooter in today’s shooting prove to in fact be diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with another disability, the millions of Americans with disabilities should be no more implicated in his actions than the non-disabled population is responsible for those of non-disabled shooters.
While some autistic people can experience reactive outbursts, these are very different from methodically planned and executed violence. An autistic meltdown is nowhere near the rampage violence exhibited by the killer in this case, and the false linkage between autism and violence perpetuates dangerous stereotypes about autistic people.
RAMPAGE KILLINGS AND MENTAL ILLNESS
Most people want to assert that “no sane person” would commit a crime like this; that’s simply not true. Even the much-touted story from “Mother Jones” (which I’ll be getting to in a moment) about mental illness and rampage violence could only come up with “signs of mental health problems” in 38 of 61 killers. As Kate Harding put it on Twitter, “That’s 23 perfectly sane killers U.S. needs to own.”
And what about that “Mother Jones” piece? With such unclear methodology and no information about how the data were gathered, what kind of criteria were used, and who evaluated the information, that 38/61 number is largely useless. This is the kind of misinformation that’s being circulated about mental illness — and people accept it because it affirms what they already believe about mental illness, which is that it’s inherently dangerous and evil.
And what about that very widely circulated “I am Adam Lanza’s mother” piece, in which a woman compares her son to a cold-blooded murderer in a horrifically objectifying and deeply disturbing piece dangerously conflating mental illness and violence? This is not, as some people are trying to claim, a standalone narrative about one woman’s experiences; it is a statement piece being made at a very charged time, and one which suggests that mentally ill people like her son are dangerous and scary.
Ordinary people have the capacity to do awful things. And that is awful and terrible. And we should talk about why that is. We should talk about why it is that most rampage killers come from a very specific background, and about the culture of masculinity in the United States. We should also talk about the fact that all of the adult victims in this awful crime were women, and that women are disproportionately victims of violent crime, including rampage shootings like this one. It is not a coincidence that disaffected white men are targeting women.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ALL THE TIME
Here’s the thing. We need better mental health services in the United States. Mental health advocates, patients, and professionals have been speaking out about this issue nonstop for years. Yet, society collectively doesn’t pay attention until something awful happens, at which point the focus is usually purely about how to stop mentally ill people from doing awful things, even though the vast majority of mentally ill people aren’t likely to ever do awful things.
There’s no thought to the benefits comprehensive mental health services would offer to society in general, not just mentally ill people — nor is there thought to what those services might look like. We live in a country where law enforcement are often tasked with providing mental health services and parents of severely mentally ill children are told there are no resources for them and they should call the police for help. Yet calling the police is extremely dangerous for mentally ill people.
We live in a country where it is extremely difficult to access services and to maintain continuity of care, two things that are critical for mentally ill people.
If your tooth really hurts, you’re going to be extremely persistent about finding a dentist, because your tooth hurts, you understand why it is hurting, and you want it to stop. You’ll make the calls you need to make, sit at the walk-in clinic, do what you have to do. If you’re having a mental health crisis, you don’t have the capacity to fight for treatment. You’re likely to end up homeless, using drugs, and struggling to survive. You will likely be victimized, and you’ll fall into the justice system, which won’t provide you with adequate mental health services.
Mentally ill people need stigma reduction. And comprehensive services including early intervention and preventative care, diversion programs, cooperative programs integrating experienced personnel at every level, from schools to colleges to workplaces. And social support throughout treatment. And a recognition that mental illness isn’t the end of your life, but treatment is a lifelong commitment, and treatment needs may be complex. They can also change over time, requiring constant check-ins and adjustment.
Mentally ill people need more than a band-aid solution thought up in a hurry in a reactive response to a horrible act committed by someone who may or may not have had a mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see people taking an interest in mental health policy, but I am disappointed in how misplaced it is at the moment. If we want genuine mental health reform, we need to be covering it all the time, not just when we’re looking for a convenient scapegoat. News coverage of mental health issues is virtually nonexistent, and what coverage there is tends to be very poor.
By all means, let’s improve mental health services in the US. Please. We desperately need it.
But if you want to talk about how to prevent rampage violence, I’m afraid you’re going to need to move on to other subjects. Subjects like gun control. Like sexism and misogyny. Like how we talk about masculinity. Like how we model social behaviors. Like how we interact with each other as human beings.
Parents who choose to keep disabled children are not martyrs.
Parents who choose to keep disabled children are not martyrs.
Parents who choose to keep disabled children are not martyrs.
- Parents who choose to keep disabled children are not martyrs.
- who choose
- to keep
- are not
PARENTS WHO CHOOSE TO KEEP DISABLED CHILDREN ARE NOT MARTYRS.
Disabled children are not living tragedies. Disabled children are not there to show how ~self sacrificing~ a parent is. Disabled children are not a symbol of what a good person someone is. Acting like disabled children are a hardship we need to praise parents for putting up with is shitty. Expecting disabled children to be aborted or abandoned and then treating parents keeping them like some special magical act is shitty. Talking about how ‘sorry’ you are for parents who have a disabled child is shitty.
And if you perpetuate any of this shit. This is all I have to say to you:
Every time someone asks me this I want to hurl things.
EVERY. DAMN. TIME.
And no, saying “If you don’t mind me asking…” does not make it OK.
Here’s a master post for information and resources on the topic of Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar disorder - symptom list
- Help Guide A site containing articles to help understand, help numbers, “tool kits”, and self help.
- Mental Help A site that has basic information, resources, articles, and a list of books that might be helpful.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- FacingUs Clubhouse Wellness Tracker, Wellness Book, Crisis Planning, Etc.
- The balanced mind is a website that provides information for parents and family of children with bipolar disorder.
- The black dog institute has some great resources for depression and bipolar disorder.
- Here is a description of mania and hypomania from The black dog institute.
- Here is a webpage that explains hypomania and it’s symptoms.
- Bipolar racing thoughts
- Bipolar Support tumblr
- Bipolar disorder and study
- Bipolar Owl
Just dont be surprised if I haul off and slap the fire shit out of you. If you are my friend that means you know me. You should know I find that offensive.
Although I can see the feebleminded rationale, I do not take kindly to the poor use of a mental disorder as an adjective for the fucking temperature outside.
Please, continue with your desensitizing of such disorders and helping perpetuate some of the stigma behind them.
USE MERCURIAL INSTEAD FFS. IT’S AN APPROPRIATE WORD
This phrase irks me to no end. People call the weather bipolar if it rains and then stops suddenly. People assume Bipolar Disorder is up, down, up, down, all within seconds.
And I’m sorry, but even if you have rapid cycling Bipolar, it usually doesn’t go that fast.
So what they really mean is that everyone experiences some aspects, very mild aspects, of symptoms of changes in mood. People can be sad, then laugh in the same day. That does not make them Bipolar, that makes them human.
Individuals with Bipolar Disorder, no matter which type, suffer from severe mood cycling. Severe highs and lows. Did I mention severe? Sometimes an episode can last a year. Same with mania. Do I really need to go on?
For some people, mania can evolve into full-blown psychosis.
A lot of the time, individuals in a depressive episode can barely get out of bed, and it takes too much energy to get in the shower, brush your teeth, tie shoes, or put makeup on, let alone leave the house or do anything. Those are just some examples.
So please, tell me more about your ignorant opinion about how “everyone’s a little Bipolar”. What you mean is that everyone has ups and downs. But there is a difference between everyday mild vicissitudes and the severity of an actual illness.