Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fairfax School Denies Student's Service Dog


A Northern Virginia elementary school turned away a child's service dog. Twelve-year-old Andrew Stevens lives with a rare form of epilepsy and the dog is trained to detect and respond to seizures. But Fairfax County says this dog is not allowed in school.

It took the Stevens family two years of waiting and of raising $20,000 to get this highly trained animal. They had hoped the dog would be Andrew’s gateway back into a world filled with other children. Instead, it's led to a dogfight between his family and Fairfax County.

Andrew Stevens classroom has only a chair, a table and mom. Learning, even sitting still is tough for this 12 year old. A few years ago his family found out why. Andrew suffers from Lennoz-Gastaut Syndrome.

His mother Nancy Stevens describes the disease, which has both physical and emotional symptoms,” Is a rare form of epilepsy where he has multiple seizures that cannot be controlled by medication."

For years, Nancy kept Andrew home terrified for her son’s safety. But finally decided he should return to public school so her doctor prescribed a service dog. A few weeks ago, after a 2 year wait, Alliya joined the family. She's trained to alert when Andrew is having or is about to have a seizure. And there's something else, implanted in Andrew’s uppers chest, that also connects him to this dog.

Nancy describes it like this, "It’s kind of like a pacemaker underneath a pocket of skin and what happens is it sets of an electronic shock to his brain."

Alliya wears a magnet around her collar and so she when she alerts to seizures by sniffing Andrews face the dog swipes the magnet across Andrew's device and hopefully reduces the seizure's effect.

It was a perfect match until Fairfax County said Alliya was not welcome at Fort Belvoir Elementary. In a letter, the school system said the requirements for a service dog have not been met.

Source and More:

No comments: