Hypersomnia Foundation

Posts Tagged 'disability'

A Service Dog Can Do That?

Service Dogs – Different Types and What They Do

Many people are surprised to learn there are more than a dozen different specializations for service dogs. There are diabetic alert dogs, severe allergy alert dogs, visual assistance dogs, hearing dogs for the deaf, wheelchair assistance dogs, psychiatric service dogs, brace/mobility support dogs, medical alert dogs, seizure assistance dogs, and dogs for autism, PTSD and more.*

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990), a dog is considered a “service dog” if it has been “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.” A disability is a “mental or physical condition which substantially limits a major life activity.” Examples include the following:

  • Caring for one’s self
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Walking
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Learning
  • Working

Other disabilities may not be visible:

  • Deafness
  • Epilepsy
  • Psychiatric conditions
  • Diabetes

To be considered a service dog, the dog must be trained to perform tasks directly related to the person’s disability. Some service dogs perform two or more functions for their disabled handler, such as a brace / mobility support dog and a seizure assistance dog. There isn’t a clear way to classify all types of service dogs, nor is classification particularly important under the ADA as long as the dog is a service dog. The dog’s type, function, title, or classification is usually left up to the dog’s handler. The following are some ways in which service dogs can assist their handlers.

Allergy Alert: The service dog can alert its handler to life-threatening allergens that may be in the area, especially tree nuts, gluten, or shellfish.

Autism Assistance: The service dog can help to calm or ground an individual who has autism via tactile or deep pressure stimulation. The dog may also assist in teaching life skills, maintaining boundaries, or finding a “runner.”

Mobility Support /Wheelchair Assistance: A brace/mobility support dog works to provide bracing or counterbalancing to a partner who has balance issues due to a disability. Many brace/mobility support dogs also retrieve, open/close doors, or do other tasks to assist in day-to- day life or in an emergency. Dogs may also assist their partner by retrieving dropped objects, opening doors, retrieving the phone, helping with transfers, or doing anything else their partner may need.

Diabetic Alert: These dogs can alert their handler to dangerous or potentially deadly blood sugar highs and lows. Many dogs are trained to call 911 on a special K-9 Alert phone if their partner cannot be roused.

Hearing Assistance: Hearing assistance dogs can alert their deaf handler to environmental sounds, including, but not limited to, alarms, doorbells, knocking, phones, cars, or their name.

Medical Alert: These dogs are trained to alert their handler to dangerous physiologic changes. such as spikes or drops in blood pressure, hormone levels or some other parameter or to recognized an identifiable symptom.

Psychiatric Service: Psychiatric service dogs assist their handler with a psychiatric disability such as anxiety, depression or PTSD via specific trained tasks.

Seizure Response: These dogs respond to their handler’s seizures via trained tasks. The dog may retrieve medication, utilize deep pressure stimulation to end a seizure early, fetch a nearby person to help or call 911.

Visual Assistance: Also know as guide dogs, these animals help their visually impaired or blind handler to navigate the world.

Kimberly Brenowitz is the Master Trainer with Animals Deserve Better, Inc., and Paws for Life in Marietta, GA. She can be reached at adb@animalsdeservebetter.com.


*Editor’s Note: Although the article above does not specifically address service animals and sleep disorders, professionally trained service animals have been reported to be able to assist people with IH, narcolepsy and related disorders. For example, a service animal may be trained to wake their owner in response to an alarm, or wake them if they are falling asleep in public. It’s possible a service animal may make sure that their owner gets to a safe place when they are overwhelmed with sleep, and helps with other tasks. Service animals can also offer comfort and calm anxiety. Of course, owning and caring for any animal is a major commitment and expense. Thorough research and careful thought on the advantages, challenges, costs and responsibilities of owning a service animal is essential.

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Sleeping Through Life: My Experience as a Hypersomniac

When I wake up, pure unadulterated panic with a side of adrenaline courses through my body as I try to make sense of the world around me: what day is it? IS IT day? Or night? What’s happened while I’ve been asleep? Have I let anyone down (agaifullsizerendern)? Did I do anything in my sleep? Did I bear the brunt of any social media pile ons? Did someone hack my social media and out me (again)? Did I sleep through any holidays or birthdays?

I’m sure you’re reading this thinking: woah, woah, woah! Don’t catastrophize! It’s alright! You just went to sleep! It’s not like the world ends every time you go to sleep! You’re right! But..you’re also wrong.

If you’re like the typical person, you do your nighttime routine (don’t we all have one?) throw on your PJs and you crawl between your sheets, so grateful for the sweet, sweet embrace of your bed. And then, ideally, you wake up 8 hours later with nothing eventful happening in between, feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to tackle the day….right?! Totally!

Unlike most people, when I go to bed at night, I don’t know when I’m going to wake up because I have hypersomnia (hyper = from the Greek meaning over, somnia = from the Latin meaning sleep). I need to get at least 12 hours of sleep to avoid getting sick (separate issue: dysautonomia/POTS) but I usually sleep around 14 hours a night, sometimes longer. As an infant and child I often slept 16-18 hours. My mom said that it was hard for her to do anything with my older siblings because everything had to revolve around my sleep schedule. I can’t imagine how difficult that was.

Fast forward: as a 19-year-old, I had just started seeing a guy, and my mom was supposed to come into town and I was so excited to pick her up from the airport the next day. That night I went to a party with the guy I had been seeing and the next morning I was still so tired (legitimately tired) so I took a nap at his house. My mom’s plane landed and she couldn’t get ahold of me. She was terrified. She called and she called and she called with no answer.

I finally got ahold of her over two days later. I had been asleep the whole time. I wasn’t under the influence of anything other than my own body. I was just so exhausted and not from anything I did. I felt so incredibly miserable when I saw my mom. She was truly distraught. She had contacted the police (obviously) who had told her I had probably just been having fun. The worst part of the whole thing was that this wouldn’t be the last time hypersomnia would cause me to scare or disappoint someone I loved…it wouldn’t even be the last time I did it to my mom. I slept through Thanksgiving when it was just the two of us and she was waiting for my call.

Hypersomnia is letting people down. It’s missing out on life. It’s sleeping through classes and exams and not being able to tell your professors what’s going on because they won’t understand and when you’ve tried in the past to be open and honest it’s backfired. Hypersomnia is depression, anxiety, stigma and people being afraid to talk about those things because maybe they’re afraid of being mentally ill and further marginalized by the medical community (and maybe there’s some internalized ableism there, too). It’s sleeping through your cat’s insulin…and earthquakes…and fire alarms. It’s sleeping so long that when you try and eat you get sick because your body has gone without food and water for so long. Hypersomnia is missing out on the things that matter MOST to you, the moments you can’t get back, with people who are now gone forever…and having to reconcile that with yourself and the ones who are still here. Hypersomnia is brain fog and sleep inertia. It’s having trouble telling what happened when you were asleep and what happened when you were awake (the blurring of dream and reality.) Hypersomnia is disability for some of us and impacted relationships for most.

Hypersomnia feels like going under general anesthesia. It’s like being drugged. When the feeling takes hold of you you can’t fight it. It’s like being dragged under water when you can’t swim and you’re tired of trying to pretend you can, you’ve spent so much time and energy pretending you can.

Yes, I spend my life sleeping. But… at the same time I spend my life dreaming, and a lot of the time, I spend my life dreaming of beautiful things, fantastical things, hopeful things.


Jennie Murray is the author of JourneyOfIsaJennie.Wordpress.Com where she blogs about a wide variety of issues. All views are her own.

Posted in: Share the Journey Stories, SomnusNooze

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Service and Therapy Animals — Part 1: Getting Started

We begin this three-part series with a basic overview of the different types of service, emotional support and therapy animals.

therapydogSo, you’re thinking about getting, or someone has recommended that you get, a service dog, therapy animal, or emotional support animal (ESA). Or perhaps you have reached the decision that you need a service animal to help with your disability. Whether you self-train your animal, work with a professional trainer, or obtain an animal that has already been trained, ask a million questions to make sure that you have all the information you need. Getting an animal is at least a 10-year commitment for you and a lifetime commitment for your animal.  There are differences among the three main types of “working” animals. The following information will help you distinguish among these three types.

  • A service dog (can also be a miniature horse with some stipulations) is any dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability that they cannot do for themselves because of their disability. There are many types of service dogs and many different types of tasks that they might be asked to perform. A service dog does not have to be tested, registered, or insured and has access to most places where the general public is allowed.
  • A therapy dog (or other therapy animal) is tested, registered, and insured to go with its owner to visit facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, and to participate in reading-to-children programs. These animals are only permitted where they have been invited, and permission has to be obtained from the organization the animals are visiting. In addition, documentation of training of the animal by a reputable organization must be provided to the organization.
  • An ESA is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides therapeutic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, nonjudgmental positive affection, and a focus in life. If a doctor determines that a person with a disabling mental illness would benefit from the companionship of an ESA, the doctor writes a letter supporting the person’s request to keep the ESA in “No Pet” housing or to travel with the ESA in the cabin of an aircraft. ESAs are not task-trained service animals. ESAs do not have to be tested, registered, or insured, but people who have an ESA require a letter from a doctor stating their need.

Only a judge can truly determine whether a person is legally disabled. Should the case arise in which a person with a service animal is brought to task, that person must be able to show that they are indeed disabled and that their service animal performs tasks to help with their disability—tasks that the person cannot do.

To begin, you should discuss getting a service dog or with your medical caregivers and think about your living arrangements and whether you have the financial resources to have a service dog. To find a service dog program or trainer, you can begin your search on the Internet, but remember, just because the program or trainer appears on a list on the Internet, it does not mean that the program or trainer is qualified. You still need to do more research.

Kimberly Brenowitz is a volunteer with Animals Deserve Better, Inc., and Paws for Life in Marietta GA. She can be reached at adb@animalsdeservebetter.com.

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Sleep Disorders and Social Security– What You Need to Know

Social Security Disability Series: Part 2

Sleep Disorders and Social Security Disability – What You Need to Know

By Anjel Burgess, JD

Jennie has been fortunate enough to secure her short-term disability benefits. She has also hired an Attorney to assist her with the Social Security Disability application process. Although her family encouraged her to “file on her own instead of paying out of pocket to hire an attorney,” Jennie has learned throughSomnusNooze that Social Security Disability attorneys are not paid by a retainer, as many attorneys are. Rather, they work on a contingency basis, which means that Jennie does not have to pay out of pocket to get representation. For the attorney to get paid, two conditions must be met:

  1. The attorney must win Jennie’s case.
  2. Jennie must be entitled to past-due benefits (also known as back pay).

If both conditions are met, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will pay Jennie’s attorney 25% of Jennie’s back pay, up to a maximum of $6,000. Since obtaining the benefits is of the utmost importance to Jennie, she has decided that she can’t afford NOT to have an attorney. She has hired an attorney who will file an initial application for her and represent her through each step of the process.

Jennie’s attorney has explained to her that most people who receive Social Security Disability benefits have been through a three-step process and that it may take two years or more before she is approved (note that in some states, it is a 2-step process, as the Reconsideration step is eliminated). These steps include the following.

  1. Initial – Roughly 30% to 35% of applicants are approved at this level. Once SSA receives the initial application, they request medical records from Jennie’s providers. Once the SSA receives Jennie’s medical records, SSA will have its own physician or psychologist (or both a physician and psychologist) review the medical records to give their opinion as to what limitations they believe that Jennie has, as well as the impact of those limitations on her ability to work. This would also include a review of the opinion of Dr. Wonderful and any other of Jennie’s treating physicians. Oftentimes, SSA will decide that they need an outside opinion in making their decision. If this occurs, the SSA may require that Jennie be examined by an independent physician or psychologist (at SSA’s expense) who may not have an expertise in idiopathic hypersomnia. This independent professional then prepares a report that summarizes her or his observations and professional opinion. If the case is denied initially, Jennie can appeal.
  2.  Reconsideration – Roughly 7% to 10% of applicants are approved at this level. At the Reconsideration step, SSA obtains updated medical records and completes another internal review of Jennie’s file to see if any new evidence would result in a favorable outcome. It is possible that the SSA may send Jennie out for an independent examination at this stage as well. Again, if Jennie is denied, she can appeal.
  3. Hearing – Roughly 50% to 55% of the remaining applicants are approved at this level. This is the stage at which most people are awarded benefits, particularly after attending a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The hearing is the opportunity for Jennie and her attorney to present the big picture to a judge. The big picture includes all medical records and testimony from Jennie herself. Jennie’s attorney will also have the opportunity to make oral and written arguments on Jennie’s behalf.

The common theme in each step of the process is medical records. Medical records are vital in a disability case because they can provide objective support for an individual’s complaints. For Jennie, her medical records tell the story of a very symptomatic individual who tried multiple medications but could only be productive for about 3 hours throughout the day. Her doctor ruled out many other conditions, and was able to confirm the diagnosis of idiopathic hypersomnia via a polysomnogram and Multiple Sleep Latency Test. Jennie’s medical records provide proof that she has idiopathic hypersomnia and authenticate her symptoms, which are reasonably due to idiopathic hypersomnia.

If you, too, are ready to file for Social Security Disability or have been denied at any step in the process, contact a qualified Social Security Disability Attorney to assist you with the process.

Anjel Burgess is a partner/attorney at the Law Firm of Burgess and Christensen located in Marietta, GA. She exclusively practices Social Security Disability Law for adults and children, as well as the ancillary areas of Guardianships and Special Needs Trusts. By doing so, she has been able to make a positive difference in the daily lives of people who need help the most. You may reach her at Anjel@DisabilityHelpLine.com or 770-422-8111. You can learn more about her services at www.DisabilityHelpLine.com

Have you joined the registry yet?
A patient registry is a collection that is established to collect standardized information about a group of patients who share a common condition or experience. In the case of the Hypersomnia Foundation Registry at CoRDS  (Coordination of Rare Diseases at Sanford), the people who participate have one of the central disorders of hypersomnolence: idiopathic hypersomnia, Kleine-Levin syndrome, or narcolepsy (type 1 or 2). Becoming part of the registry is easy and it could help solve the puzzle of hypersomnia! Simply go to http://www.sanfordresearch.org/cords/ and click on the ENROLL NOW button.

A patient registry is a collection that is established to collect standardized information about a group of patients who share a common condition or experience. In the case of the Hypersomnia Foundation Registry at CoRDS (Coordination of Rare Diseases at Sanford), the people who participate have one of the central disorders of hypersomnolence: idiopathic hypersomnia, Kleine-Levin syndrome, or narcolepsy (type 1 or 2). Becoming part of the registry is easy and it could help solve the puzzle of hypersomnia! Simply go to http://www.sanfordresearch.org/cords/ and click on the ENROLL NOW button.

 

Watch Beyond Sleepy in the Mile-High City

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Were you one of the more than 1250 people who joined us at Beyond Sleepy in the Mile-High City, the Hypersomnia Foundation’s Regional Conference, in person and online on June 12, 2016? If not, you can still watch the conference in its entirety by registering at http://www.hypersomniafoundation.org/2016-hypersomnia-regional-conference-register/. If you previously registered and missed any part of the program–or simply want to watch it again–please go to http://www.hypersomniafoundation.org/2016-hypersomnia-regional-conference-live/. The video will only be up for two more weeks!

 

Posted in: Action, Awareness, BeyondSleepy, Conference, CoRDS Registry, Education, Hypersomnia, idiopathic hypersomna, Kleine-Levin syndrome, narcolepsy, News, SomnusNooze, SSDI

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