Children that have social phobias, children with type one diabetes and blind children are all accompanied by service dogs while they are in school. Many concerned parents have begun speaking out about the issue that school boards are not allowing their autistic children to have service dogs in schools.
Therefore the question must be asked: is it legal to deny service dogs to autistic children while they are in school?
School boards often discriminate based on whether it’s a smaller race or one of the larger breeds when deciding on whether or not the service dogs are allowed into schools, saying that bigger dogs could potentially pose their own risks to the other students, instead of helping the autistic children.
Although there is no specific policy pertaining to autism, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has the potential to modify a school district’s policies if it infringes upon the rights of the disabled students.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act also hold the power to force a school district to modify their policies to allow the disabled children to bring service dogs with them into schools.
Many parents are complaining that their children are allergic to the dogs, and therefore the dogs should not be in school, but hypoallergenic dogs wouldn’t be as bad for some kids. In addition to this fact, the dogs serve to protect the autistic children from harm and unruly behavior while they are in school, and this protection is very necessary for some children afflicted with autism.
Although allergies may be an issue, the protection of the autistic child is a much bigger issue, and having hypoallergenic service dogs could help both of these issues tremendously.
In finishing the legality issue, it is not specifically stated that autistic children are protected under the policy, but children afflicted with autism are considered disabled, and are protected under the Act. Therefore, it is not legal to deny service dogs to children afflicted with autism if the Act specifically modifies the school district’s policies on the matter.
There are ways to get around the potential problems that service dogs may cause, such as the potential allergens and an excess of hair, so there really is no reason that service dogs should not be allowed into schools to benefit autistic children.