The Unites States Justice Department recently brought suit on behalf of an 8 year old boy with special needs — autism and encephalopathy — against a New Jersey school district. The suit alleged that the School District discriminated against the child by first requiring him to provide an inordinate amount of paper work to support his request to use a service dog, and then by denying his request.
The case is a good reminder that service dogs are now being used effectively for all sorts of disabilities — not simply for people with blindness as we might be accustomed to. In this case, the dog was there to keep the child from wandering off; to reduce the child’s anxiety and increase attentiveness; and to alert adults if the child started to have a seizure. They are increasingly being used for people with other special needs, such as mental health issues, deafness, and mobility issues.
This case shows that children in special education settings may under the right circumstances require their schools to accommodate the use of service animals during the school day.
Here is a link to the news report: http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2014/06/24/delran-schools-pay-k-refusing-students-service-dog/11318031/