Oregon school says yes to autism assistance dog

The wheels of justice really do turn slowly sometimes. A school district in Oregon just announced that after fighting it for three years, it will finally allow Scooter Givens, a fourth-grader with autism, to bring his assistance dog to class for a trial period. The Department of Justice spent more than a year investigating the case, which finally came to a conclusion last Friday. From a story in The Oregonian:

the decision pitted two federal laws against each other. The district was citing Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, saying Scooter was “adequately achieving” the goals of his education plan. The Givens’ attorney focused on the Americans with Disabilities Act, which ensures equal access for people with disabilities.

The story described Scooter as a five foot tall boy who weighs 150 pounds and is prone to violent meltdowns.

When he’s with Madison, Scooter wears a belt that is attached to a harness on the shepherd. When Scooter tries to bolt, the dog sits or digs his claws into the ground and pulls back, stopping the boy.

If Scooter works himself into a violent on-the-floor meltdown, the dog puts his paw on the boy to calm him. If that doesn’t work, Madison stands over him and then lies down on the boy.

Scootter’s mother said her son’s flailing and yelling stop almost immediately when his dog is around. She felt vindicated by the case but wished it hadn’t taken three years.


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