Banned: Newman, Wally’s Dog

A St. Paul family is suing after the school district decided to bar Newman, their son’s service dog, from his public school, Como Park Elementary. Newman, a Golden Retriever, is connected to 8-year-old Wally LaBerge throughout the day via a harness, yesterday’s WCCO notes. While service dogs have been more and more widely used to assist autistic children, there’s been more than a little disagreement about their presence in public places, from schools to airplanes to apartments. It’s noted that the dogs are calming and help to allay anxieties: Until it’s widely understood how much a service dog can help an autistic child, they’ll be more of these sorts of disputes, and more anxiety, and antagonism.

And not enough learning on either side.

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    • Linda

      Wouldn’t that be covered under the ADA?

    • JoyMama

      This is a situation where I could see one person’s special needs (person in need of a service animal) crashing into another person’s special needs (allergy issues, like my own). Granted the article didn’t give a real reason for turning down the request, other than nyah-nyah, we don’t have to do that. Which of course isn’t good enough.

    • Cait

      It’d be covred under the ADA if the dog is actually task trained. Most autism ‘service dogs’ for kids aren’t- they’re simply providing companionship. Very valuable, but not meeting the current standards under the law. In addition, if the kid is a KID, so who on earth is handling that dog? The teacher? A classrom aide? I think it is fairly well agreed upon that kids do NOT have adult decisionmaking capacity or ability to plan for the future as fully. Guide schools typically won’t place with kids under 16 or so- and there are VERY good reasons for this.

    • Another Voice

      After reading the article I feel that the school officials are somewhat lost and groping. They are taking a very legalistic stance regarding prohibiting this assistance dog. If that was to be the case why put this family and the little boy through a trial period? The law has not changed during these past few months, nor were they expecting a change. I don’t think they want to disclose their real reasons.

      Hopefully, they will have to speak up in court.

    • Phil Schwarz

      Jim Sinclair of Autism Network International has been training task-trained service dogs for autistic people for many years now.

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