In The Politics of Autism, I write about education and laws that affect students with disabilities, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
But after age three, thousands of kids — many of whom thrive under the approach — are suddenly forced to drop ABA in city preschools and elementary schools, where it’s rarely offered, according to parents and advocates.
A group of parents has now filed a class action lawsuit against the city and state education departments charging the lack of ABA violates federal special education law.
“It’s devastating to see these families desperate, to hear the stories of regression, and to know that it was clearly preventable,” said Elisa Hyman, the special education lawyer representing the families in the lawsuit.
“In my view, it’s blatantly illegal for the department to adopt a blanket policy whereby it refuses to consider, or provide, ABA services,” Hyman added.
Education Department officials acknowledged they don’t include ABA on individual education plans, which are the legal documents that govern special education services, though they’ve added programs across the city that use the approach.From Hyman:
Autism Services Class: The Autism Services Class consists of all current and future (i) children who are diagnosed with or classified as autistic, reside in New York City, have an IEP, and have been subject to the Modified Autism Services Policies and Practices. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants, including the New York City Department of Education and the New York State Education Department, have adopted policies and practices that, among other things, prohibit IEP teams in New York City from recommending certain Autism Services. For purposes of the case, the “Modified Autism Services” are defined as (a) 1:1 instruction with a teacher for all or part of the day; (b) Applied Behavioral Analysis (“ABA”); and (c) extended school day, after school or home-based services (for students attending a school-day program).