Some people think that assistance dogs may be appropriate for anyone on the autism spectrum who can cope with an active, lively animal day in, day out for many years.
However, some organisations which train and provide assistance dogs are more cautious. They may have specific child age limits and most importantly, will assess the family as a whole for the suitability of having a dog. For example, the charity Dogs for Good’s website, accessed on 29 June 2018, provides several eligibility criteria.
“1. Your child is aged between 3 and 10. 2. Your child must have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. 3. The dog will support only one child diagnosed on the autistic spectrum within the household. 4. Your child must be physically mobile. 5. You must be physically capable of handling a dog. 6. It is essential that you attend an information day at a venue of the Charity’s choosing. 7. If you live in rented accommodation, you will need to provide written evidence from your landlord/housing association that you are permitted to keep an assistance dog on the premises. 8. You must have access to a secure outdoor area at ground level that can be allocated to use for a dog’s toileting purposes. i. If you live in a property with a communal garden and propose to use that for the dog’s toileting purposes, you must have written permission to put in place a toileting pen 6ft x 6ft (minimum) for the purpose of toileting a dog.”