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."


Blogger Ariane said...

I've been upset about this for years. It breaks my heart to hear a parent say "I can't afford ABA." Research supports that 20+ hours of ABA can make substantial differences in their lives. I photocopied the article and have it in my office to give to parents. I only wish legal services were more affordable. A class action suit would be incredible. The DOE finally realized that some students with Asperger's Syndrome also need a more specialized program and has started the NEST program in all regions. There aren't many seats, but at least they have a program that's research based and affiliated with a reputable university!

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Tara said...

I just wanted to let you know, I adore this blog. Witty, sharp, poignant, gritty and real. I'm a special education teacher in Georgia, a far cry from South Bronx. Keep on truckin', sister!


12:58 PM  
Blogger mcewen said...

My hat goes off to you, please don't 'burn out.' It is true that in my experience the average school district relies upon the fact that only a small percentage of parents have the time, energy and guts to see it out to the end.
Best wishes

10:24 AM  
Blogger M said...

Reading this from the UK, and identifying with everything said there (apart from prices for New York Lawyers. That is something else!). Generally, the provision eventually made is not private, still in the state system, but always significantly better than before the family kicked up a fuss.

10:29 AM  

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