Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a child’s ability to pay attention, control impulsive behaviors, or cause them to be overly active. There are medicines and therapies to help someone manage the condition’s symptoms. Still, if you suffer from emotional distress due to your situation, you may benefit from working with an emotional support animal, like a dog.
What Is An Emotional Support Dog?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an emotional support animal is any animal that provides emotional support in alleviating one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.
So, if you are thinking about starting to work with an emotional support animal, but you’re worried about being able to find and afford one. Don’t worry. You can adopt an animal or register your already owned pet as your emotional support animal.
Can I get an emotional support dog for my ADHD?
Of course! If you find that trying to get through life managing the symptoms of your ADHD is causing you emotional distress that you are struggling to deal with, you can get an emotional support dog. The only thing that would prevent you from getting a legit emotional support animal is if the licensed mental health professional of your choice declines to provide you with an ESA letter.
Once you have that letter signed, you can declare that the pet you already have is your emotional support animal or adopt one from a local shelter.
But, be aware that you may need more from your animal than just offering support. Specific handlers can train service dogs to help you manage this attention disorder. You may find this service to be helpful for you to stay on task and minimize the chances of you becoming overwhelmed. When you speak with a professional to get your letter, be honest about what support you need and see what they recommend.
The Process Of Getting An Emotional Support Animals
Now you know what a support animal does and its role in supporting someone emotionally, but do you know how you get an emotional support animal? Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to get your own ESA.
Decide If You Need An Emotional Support Animal
Suppose you aren’t already seeing someone for a condition causing you emotional distress. In that case, you have to decide for yourself to begin the process of getting an emotional support animal. Although you can’t technically petition for an emotional support animal on your own and get one, you are responsible for beginning the process.
Speak with a Licensed Mental Health Professional
For your support animal to be recognized legally as an emotional support animal, you have to have a formal letter from a mental health professional declaring that you have a condition that requires the assistance of an emotional support animal to manage.
This documentation is essential to get the full benefits of having an ESA, especially regarding housing.
This professional can be a therapist or a psychiatrist, but they have to provide you with the letter. For this letter to be deemed legitimate, the letter must include three things:
- The name of the individual who is being cared for by the professional
- A clear statement that the named individual has an emotional or psychiatric disability
- A recommendation by the health professional for the assistance given to the individual
The letter will not include the specific condition you are dealing with in the letter. Just make sure the letter provided contains enough information to declare you as someone who requires an emotional support animal.
If you think you’ll need help getting a letter, resources can help you.
Are There Animals That Cannot Be Emotional Support Animals
For the most part, any animal can serve as an emotional support animal. As long as you have the proper paperwork, any animal or pet can legally be considered an ESA.
The only thing you have to worry about is what animals you are allowed to keep as a pet in your state and city. If there are pet ownership restrictions laws where you live, you will have to adhere to them as the ADA doesn’t specify what animals can and cannot be emotional support animals as it does for service animals.
Do schools allow ESA?
ADHD is a disorder commonly diagnosed during childhood, and many start treatments and medications around the same time. If you are thinking about getting an emotional support animal for someone still in school, you need to know what academic settings emotional support animals are allowed.
The short answer is it depends. Because the ADA doesn’t provide any federal protections for non-service dogs, there is no set procedure from state to state. The school will likely be allowed to decide whether or not a student can bring an emotional support animal to class.
For K-12 students, the school might not have a set policy and will decide on a case-by-case basis depending on the student’s needs.
Colleges are more likely to have a policy stating whether they allow emotional support animals indoors or in classrooms. Make sure to review these policies during the application process or before the first day of classes.
You can, however, keep your emotional support animal in your dorm on campus because of the Fair Housing Act (HUD). However, suppose your support animal starts causing disturbances or behaving aggressively towards your roommate or other students in the building. In that case, the school can ask you to remove the animal from your dorm.