Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders : Service dogs constitute a means to palliate a disability
Montréal, January 12, 2011 – Service dogs for children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) constitute a means to palliate a disability within the meaning of the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, according to an opinion released today by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse.
The Commission’s formal recognition allows children with PDD assisted by a service dog to claim the right, without discrimination, to access public places or public transport and to obtain goods and services normally offered to the public.
In the opinion of the Commission, the parents of children with PDD have these rights when they are accompanied by the dog, but not by the child, considering the particular context within which falls the use of such dogs. Moreover, based on the right to discrimination-free working conditions, their right to bring a service dog to the workplace is recognized, unless it constitutes a case of undue hardship. The parent is in charge of the dog at all times since it cannot remain unaccompanied nor can the child be left alone with the service animal.
“This is another step toward a better integration and recognition of the rights of children with PDD and their parents,” said the president of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, Mr. Gaétan Cousineau, during an information session held today in Montreal in cooperation with the Mira Foundation.
Studies have shown that service dogs trained to assist children with PDD can provide numerous benefits for the child and his or her family. The dog can help children increase their social interactions, to positively alter their behaviour and contributes to decreasing social isolation. The presence of the service dog can also improve family outings and security.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Asperger’s Syndrome (AD) are different types of PDD, a lifelong neurological disorder that impairs three key areas of development: social skills, language and communication, and behaviour.
Mr. Cousineau acknowledged the work of specialized organizations who train and match service dogs, particularly the Mira Foundation. He urged them to continue raising awareness so that service dogs are recognized as a means to palliate a disability within the meaning of the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The opinion in French is available on the Commission's Web site.
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