Golden doodle service dog

Update: School Refuses to Allow Service Dog

Remember the little girl with cerebral palsy that wasn’t allowed to bring her guide dog to school in Michigan? The family sued the school district and the case was thrown out because the family didn’t first try to resolve the matter administratively by filing due process under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) laws. The family argued that it was not an IDEA claim, it was an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim, so they should be able to go straight to court.

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Golden doodle service dog

School Refuses to Allow Service Dog: US Supreme Court Takes the Case

The US Supreme Court has decided to hear a case about a school that refused to allow a service dog to accompany a 12-year-old girl with cerebral palsy to school.  Wonder, a goldendoodle, found a home with Ehlena Fry when the girl was just five years old and is trained to help Ehlena by picking things up for her when she drops them, turning on lights, opening and closing doors, and other helpful tasks. To the family’s dismay, the Michigan school district would not allow Wonder into the building at all, initially.  When it did allow a “trial” basis, Wonder was forced to stay on the other side of the classroom and the district would not let Wonder stay with Ehlena for recess or lunch.

The family filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and OCR found in their favor, compelling the district to allow Ehlena to bring her service dog to school.  However, the struggle had been going on for three years and, by that time, the relationship between the school and the family was too damaged.  Ultimately, Ehlena’s parents felt compelled to move her to another school district which welcomed Wonder to the classroom, thereby allowing Ehlena to again interact with her peers.

Meanwhile, the family sued the the district claiming that the school violated Ehlena’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying her equal access to school programs for several years.  However, both the US District Court and the US Court of

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Two thumbs up for adaptive clothing for special needs kids

Cool Adaptive Clothing for Kids

Anyone who buys clothes for someone with special needs knows how difficult it is to find fashionable clothes that work.  The good news is that another big retailer, Tommy Hilfiger, has introduced a line of apparel that is made specifically for those with special needs! Their adaptive clothing line is just as fashionable as the rest of their clothes, except it has Velcro/magnetic closures and adaptable pant lengths. Very exciting! Nike recently came out with an adapted “cool” looking shoe too: The LeBron Soldier 8 Flyease opens up wide to accommodate braces, making it easier for those with fine motor challenges to put on their own shoes.  That’s what I call moving in the right direction!

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Special needs students in the classroom

When Is Modified Curriculum Appropriate and How Modified Should It Be?

Is your child’s IQ is well below average? Does your child’s IEP exempt your child from standardized tests or note that she should take modified assessments? Is she “pulled out” into a resource room for any academic subject, such as Math or Language Arts? Is it clear from her homework that she is unable to learn at the same depth or speed as her typical peers? If your answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” then ask the IEP Team if your child should be receiving a modified curriculum, and then ask them to identify what grade level curriculum she should be receiving.

What is a Modified Curriculum?
A modified curriculum is changing what the student is expected to learn, not the manner in which it is presented. For example, if the typical peers in 3rd grade are learning double digit multiplication, perhaps a modification for this child would be to teach (and hold her responsible for learning) only single digit modification. Modifications can be slight and they can be large– it’s all what the team decides is appropriate to meet YOUR child’s needs.

Modifying the curriculum is different from modifying the manner of presentation. The latter would be more of an accommodation. For example, if a student has difficulty concentrating for long periods or difficulty with writing, the team may decide that she should have shortened assignments, i.e. giving her only three math problems instead of 10. She is still learning the same thing, double digit multiplication, but

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Sonja’s Suggestions: Dancing

Greetings!  Warmer weather has finally arrived and folks in our reception area are feeling a bounce in their step.  So let’s celebrate the season that is providing us with some exuberant energy by dancing!  Yes, dancing.  It’s a good form of exercise, a lot of fun, and a great way to go out and socialize with your friends and family.  This winter kept many people cooped up in their homes, so this will be the perfect way to get out and shake the winter blues away.

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OH Seal 2

Accessing ABA Services Under Health Care Reform

The Affordable Care Act, as implemented in Ohio, requires covered health plans to pay for up to 20 hours per week of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) or other comparable evidentiary based services. This is an extraordinary advance for families with children with autism. While the implications and implementation of this directive are not fully realized at this point, the following provides some guidance based on information available to date.

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