ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability affecting 1-2% of the population. Common characteristics include social anxieties, attachment to predictable routines and sensitivities to sensory stimuli. Certain traits of ASD contribute to excellent pet ownership, yet veterinary practice visits can be a source of considerable stress. This article outlines the legal responsibilities practices have to provide equal access to services and suggests a range of ways to meet these obligations. Home visits with a trusted member of the clinical team are recommended as one of the best methods for inclusion. A range of inexpensive and easy considerations are presented. The role of assistance dogs is discussed including animal welfare implications of which veterinary professionals should be aware.

Author: Donna Reed BSc, RVN

Donna qualified as a VN in 1995 and worked in a range of settings including first opinion, referral, exotic, equine, large animal and charity settings as well as in practice management. Donna gained her BSc (Hons) in Zoology from Swansea University in 2017 and now works as a locum and offers pet care services to
private clients.
Email: donnathereed@gmail.com

Keywords: autism; autistic spectrum disorder; pets; pet ownership; assistance dogs;
veterinary practice; disability; rights; discrimination; equality; district veterinary nurse

To cite this article: VNJ 2021 Volume 36 (1) January pp 30-32

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