Sunday, November 05, 2006

Suing for Autism Services in New York City

Excellent article in New York Magazine: The Autism Clause. After reading this article, you'll understand why my mildly autistic Upper East Side student gets 35 hours per week of one-on-one autism services while my more severely autistic Bronx student gets 5 hours. (And he's one of the few in the neighborhood who get even that.)

One parent's brief response to the article is also worth reading. "Apparently my demands are appropriate, but the Board provides the services only when sued for them. In other words, if the Board of Ed turns down all 1,000 children needing specialized services, and then loses, say, 250 cases that are brought against it, it would still cost less. It saddens me for the kids whose parents are unable to fight for their rights."

My two students live three miles apart. One is getting excellent services and is beginning to speak clearly and spontaneously. The other is getting less than mediocre services and is rarely understandable through echolalic speech. One lives in a luxury apartment in a doorman building. One lives in a one-room studio neighboring the projects. They are both at the age when services matter most.

I wonder how the Board of Ed would feel about their autism funding strategies after paying a major class action settlement to inner city children with autism.

P.S. Interesting fact hidden at the end of the article: "Last year, Chancellor Klein, who complains that too many lawsuits result in private-school placements, hired ten lawyers specifically to fight special-education claims."