Service Dogs Teach Educators About Disabilities : NPR

Service Dogs Teach Educators About Disabilities : NPR.

May 14, 2011

Many disabled people say that life without their service animals is unthinkable. And while public institutions are required to admit service animals without question, some public schools claim they cannot handle the disruption of a dog in a busy classroom.

Disabled students are hoping new federal guidelines will help them avoid legal battles over their animals.

Nathan Selove relies on his service dog, Sylvia, to help him  deal with meltdowns and other issues related to Asperger's syndrome.

EnlargeLarry Abramson/NPR

Nathan Selove relies on his service dog, Sylvia, to help him deal with meltdowns and other issues related to Asperger’s syndrome.

Nathan And Sylvia

Everyone at Sherando High School in Virginia knows Nathan Selove: He’s the kid with the dog.

“Actually,” he says, “she’s the only dog in the Frederick County public school system, so far.”

Sylvia is a sweet-tempered yellow Lab who accompanies Nathan to school every day. She wears a green vest that proclaims: “Don’t pet me, I’m working.”

Nathan used to be a target of bullying, but is less so now, he says. He strolls down the hallways, leash in hand, looking relaxed, sunglasses propped above his forehead. You would hardly know he has Asperger’s syndrome, or that he sometimes has terrifying meltdowns in class. That’s why Sylvia is here.

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