Case of A.G.
A 7-year-old boy suffered traumatic brain injury (ataxia) after choking on a peanut at the age of 3. Until that time, he was a healthy child, and of typical development in all respects. After the accident, he was virtually nonverbal, although his receptive language skills are adequate, both in English and Spanish. He has compromised motor skills and is dependent upon a wheelchair or a walker to get around. He must eat many of his foods through a gastrointestinal tube. His means of communicating are through gestures and an iconic communication device. A.G. was placed in a special education, 1st-grade classroom for severely disabled children who were significantly lower functioning than A.G. As well, his classroom teacher was not particularly qualified in dealing with orthopedically impaired children. Although A.G. was not classified as “OI,” his therapists determined that this was his primary disability. Meanwhile, he was languishing in this classroom setting, despite having a 1:1 aide and receiving therapy at a neighboring school district site. He was only partially mainstreamed in the 1st grade, during which time he flourished. His mother's goal was to have A.G. more fully included in a mainstream classroom or be placed in a special day-class setting in the neighboring school district, as that was the site of his therapies; she believed he would have a better educational experience there than in the home school district. A.G.'s home school district tried to dissuade the parents from this option, maintaining that there was no space available. The district instead showed the parents classrooms far remote from home that also proved to have no space available.
Through the clinic's intervention and the tenacious work of Angie Schwartz ('04), A.G.'s classification was changed to “OI,” as a result of which the home school district had to admit that it did not have adequate resources to meet his needs. Through a negotiated settlement between the clinic and the district's counsel, A.G. was placed at his neighboring school district where he had been receiving therapy. He currently is in a special day classroom, and is happy, learning, and growing.