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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Autism Education Suits

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports:

Sisters Natalie and Michelle, 18 and 19, have autism and need help with the simplest tasks. They can't communicate. They probably will never live independently.

Their parents say it didn't have to be this way.

They argue their daughters would have been markedly more functional — perhaps even high-functioning — if the teens had gotten more educational services earlier on.

The couple is seeking unspecified damages against the Department of Education, alleging administrators failed to provide appropriate autism-specific services to the children in the 1990s and that the two were victims of "deliberate indifference" by the department.

And this week they got a big victory: A federal appeals court reinstated their lawsuit after it had been thrown out.

Their lawyers say the ruling could open the doors for other parents of disabled children seeking damages with claims against the DOE over special-education services.

AP reports:
An Illinois appeals court has agreed to allow a central Illinois student to keep his autism helper dog in school.

The Fourth District Appellate Court sided with the family of Kaleb Drew. They had argued that the boy's yellow Labrador retriever is a service animal allowed in schools under state law.

The boy's mother had testified that the dog prevents the boy from running away, helps him focus on his homework and calms him when he has a tantrum.