J.B.’s Story: Giving an Autistic Child a Meaningful Chance to Progress

J.B.’s Story: Giving an Autistic Child a Meaningful Chance to Progress

J.B. is a student with autism whose mother came to PFCR after years of unsuccessfully fighting for appropriate services in the New York City public school system. J.B. was nine years old and had been placed in the same DOE special education program since he was in kindergarten. Over the more than four years that he spent in that placement, J.B. made no meaningful progress and in some crucial areas even regressed. J.B. remained nonverbal and had no means to clearly and consistently express his wants and needs. His inability to communicate caused him intense frustration and triggered self-injurious and aggressive behaviors such as hitting or punching himself repeatedly in the head, scratching himself, and hitting, scratching, and biting others.

PFCR began advocating on J.B.’s behalf by attending an IEP meeting with his mother and supporting her request for an appropriate program and services for her son. Through the IEP meeting, PFCR was able to secure home-based Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services for J.B.─a well-respected and frequently sought autism intervention that involves the application of systemic, objectively based reinforcement systems to increase positive behaviors, decrease negative behaviors, and generalize the application of learned behavioral responses. PFCR also secured for J.B. a higher level of related services, such as occupational therapy and speech-language therapy, to be provided at school. However, the DOE refused the parent’s most critical request─to move J.B. to a different school program specializing in the education of students with autism.

In order to challenge the DOE’s decision and secure an appropriate school program for J.B., PFCR gathered data proving J.B.’s lack of progress and regression in his public school placement, including a marked increase in his self-injurious and aggressive behaviors. PFCR then requested a hearing to obtain the specialized school program that J.B. required. Through the resolution process, PFCR secured the DOE’s agreement to change J.B.’s school placement and allow him to attend a nonpublic school that would appropriately address his needs.

J.B. is now enrolled in the nonpublic school of his mother’s choice, where he is thriving. The school offers an intensive and specialized program for students with autism that is well matched to J.B.’s needs. Through the support of the school, as well as the at-home ABA services that J.B. continues to receive, J.B.’s self-injurious and aggressive behaviors have markedly decreased, and he has finally begun communicating. His mother has been overjoyed to see that J.B. now comes home from school in a calm and regulated state, able to ask for things that he wants and tell her what he needs. After so many years of receiving an inappropriate education, J.B. is finally on the road to progress.

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