Legal disputes about children with autism more prevalent in high-income families

Champagne, Ill. — a survey from the Web has found that children with autism from high-income families are more likely to be caught up in legal disputes than others who are from families who fall on the average or below-average income category.

The survey, which was taken across 47 states and Washington D.C., gathered data from responses taken from over 500 parents. It collected and analyzed information about the characteristics of both the children with autism and their families, as well as their relationships with the educators of the school where their children go to— in an attempt to foresee what factors may drive families to resort to procedural safeguards in order to protect both their and their children’s rights.

Over 26 percent of those who participated in the survey say that they have taken steps to undergo either due process hearings or mediation— both of which available under the Americans with Disabilities Education Act.

But the survey found that only families with incomes not less than $100,000 were likely to resort to legal means.

University of Illinois special needs researcher Meghan Burke finds this fact troubling. She told:

“That’s a huge problem, to see that parents who come from low-income backgrounds have less access to these safeguards. Due process and mediation are definitely last resorts for parents and schools to resolve their differences, but you want it to be an equitable resort. The playing field needs to be leveled so that lower-income families have access to pro bono and sliding-scale attorneys who can help them file, if that’s something that they need to do.”

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta

Source:The Eureka Alert website: Family income, child behavior factors in legal disputes about kids with autism