Mis-educating Josh

A heated contest between the Rocklin Unified School District and two parents who want to choose how to educate their two autistic children has ended. The arbitrator ruled in the district’s favor.

“In reading the complete transcript of the decision, it appears to us that the arbitrator unnecessarily skewed his findings in favor of the district,” said parent Sandy Aguilar. (See “Educating Josh,” SN&R News, April 12, 2007.)

Applied Behavior Analysis, developed by Dr. Ivar Lovaas of UCLA, relies on intensive one-on-one intervention. An instructor works with the autistic child to break down skills into smaller steps and to introduce learning opportunities into a variety of environments. Through intensive research, the Aguilars settled on ABA as ideal treatment for their children after the school district’s chosen program resulted in Josh’s considerable regression. The district initially agreed to provide a major share of the funding for ABA, but later attempted to withdraw its support, claiming its own program provided “appropriate” treatment. The Aguilars fought the decision and want to continue fighting. Sandy indicated that she and her husband are now prepared to take the issue to an appeals court, which could require a lengthy and arduous legal process. “We’ll appeal this decision as far as it needs to be pursued. We owe it not only to our children but to all of those who follow,” Sandy said.