The mother of a child on the autism spectrum wants you to read this story and ask yourself why did her daughter’s school district make the changes it did.
This is the story of five year old Devyn and her service dog Hannah. Devyn has “Angelmans Syndrome” — a combination of autism and epilepsy.
Hannah rarely leaves Devyn’s side. She can alert Devyn’s mom if Devyn is about to have a seizure and just by licking her face, Hannah can interrupt the seizure and help Devyn to start breathing again.
The handle on her harness helps Devyn walk around independently.
So Devyn needs Hannah, especially at school. But just weeks before Devyn goes into kindergarten in the Gates Chili School District there are problems. For a while, the district said the dog couldn’t come. Now they say Hannah can come to school and Devyn can get her one-on-one aid. But the district refuses to train the aid on how to handle the dog.
Devyn’s mom can’t understand it and she wants you to know about it.
“It would help me to have the community understand where we’re at right now and maybe get their support to put a little pressure on the school as to why they’re not communicating with me because there’s been a break down somewhere and I can’t really figure out why we are where we are right now,” Heather Pereira, Devyn’s mother said.
Here’s where the breakdown started
In March, Devyn had an individualized education plan, or IEP. It said Devyn would get a one-on -one aid and a service dog. (See picture above)
But in June, the same IEP made no mention of the dog or the fact that three doctors prescribed it for Devyn. (See the picture above)
So how does that happen?
Heather says she got a notice from the district in the spring asking her to sign a form to correct the IEP. If she signed it they wouldn’t have to have a meeting. She had done it before, so she signed it this time.
But, Heather says the the district told her they were only correcting “clerical errors.” There was nothing about the dog. But when she gets the revised IEP in June, all reference to the dog was gone.
The Gates-Chili School District Statement
“The District has never denied a properly documented accommodation for any student, including a service dog. Furthermore, the District has never unilaterally changed an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for any child.”