The recent increased awareness of Autism Spectral Disorders (“ASD”) has led to rapid development in laws meant to ensure disabled children receive adequate treatment and education. This development is due in large part to the proliferation of litigation initiated by individual ASD advocates, especially parents. Leaving the development of disability laws up to litigation, however, has resulted in often uneven and inconsistent interpretations of federal disability legislation. Moreover, the push to interpret these laws as they relate to children with ASD and their families has engulfed the development of disability law in general, especially where special education is concerned. This Article calls for replacing the current model of isolated parties advocating for their own individual interests with a more targeted, planned, and cohesive advocacy effort that includes parents, doctors, attorneys, and other professionals working together toward a common goal. To reach this conclusion, this Article first provides an introduction to ASD and its treatment and then examines the history of special education law in the United States, with particular attention paid to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The Article then traces the evolution of ASD litigation in the courts, analyzing the major trends that have emerged involving diagnosis, treatment, placement of children within the education system, and funding of services. Finally, the Article surveys the various recent developments in federal and state legislation, focusing specially on insurance coverage requirements, federal health care reform, funding, education practices, and oversight mechanisms in legislation at the state level. In doing so, the Article reveals the need for a more cohesive and comprehensive approach to ensuring that law and policy related to ASD reflect the true needs of children and adults with ASD.
Sheryl Dicker and Emily Bennett,
Engulfed by the Spectrum: The Impact of Autism Spectrum Disorders on Law and Policy,
45 Val. U. L. Rev. 415
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/vulr/vol45/iss2/1