Monday, February 06, 2006

Asperger's disorder ruled to be a disability by a federal judge

One of the issues that has plagued many school officials working working with children with Asperger's disorder is whether or not this disorder actually meets the criteria for a legal disability as per IDEIA.

In Maine, a federal judge has provided some guidance:
  • A York County girl who suffers from Asperger's syndrome is entitled to special education services even though she completes her homework, behaves well in class and scores well on tests
  • The judge in the case said that the girl's parents demonstrated that the disability adversely affects her educational performance "and is thus eligible for special education under (federal law) due to her Asperger syndrome and her depressive disorder." (note: the article does not indicate under which classification disability category Asperger's syndrome is subsumed).
  • The ruling described Asperger's as a "clinically recognized pervasive developmental disability" with symptoms that include "limited interests or an unusual preoccupation with a particular subject to the exclusion of other activities."
  • The girl in this case, who attended public schools in Hiram and Cornish through 5th grade, performed well academically but in the fourth grade her teachers noticed that she looked sad, anxious and had a difficult time making friends.
  • The decision recognizes that social development is an important part of education

Of course, the ruling should have broad impact in many areas, specifically in the fact that case law is recognizing and shaping the fact that Asperger's Disorder has educational impacts that go far beyond reading, writing and math.

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