NYS Board Of Regents Strikes Down Autism Mandates

Many Parents Fear School Districts Will Now Cut Speech Therapy

LAKE GROVE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Some parents of children with autism say New York is making a huge mistake.

CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reports the state Board of Regents on Tuesday voted down a long-time rule that mandated speech and language services for autistic kids.

Aiello went to a school in Suffolk County on Tuesday and learned that five days a week youngsters Tyler and Sammy receive speech therapy as part of a program for students with autism.

The daily schedule was mandated by the state — until now.

“My fear is that without these reasonable mandates in place, most districts will walk away from the table and tell parents ‘we don’t do speech here,’” said Louis Conte of the Autism Action Network.

Conte has two sons with autism and he’s upset over the Board of Regents’ decision to end mandated speech therapy in New York.

For more than 20 years the Regents said kids with autism had to receive five-day-a-week therapy and students who qualified for so-called “related services” had to get two days a week of speech and language.

However, Conte said he fears without a mandate from Albany, “the district plans to eliminate them; they won’t pay for them.”

But the principal at the school where Sammy and Tyler get services said it’s not about money; it’s about flexibility. Ken Gutmann said he believes autism is a spectrum of related disorders and not every autistic kid needs speech services five days a week.

“There were instances – a lot of instances — where students were missing out on other programs, missing out on valuable classroom time, because they were required to attend a service which they may not need,” Gutmann told Aiello.

New York appears to be the only state that has mandated a minimum level of speech and language therapy for students with autism. Districts are still required to evaluate each student and develop a speech and language schedule that meets their individual needs.

Some in the autism community are also upset the Regents will allow 14 students in certain special education classes. The previous limit was 12.

More from Tony Aiello

One Comment

  1. Emmanuel Caceres says:

    that board o regents have got to go for sure from ny.

  2. Sochi olimpiada says:

    А! Mate. Dieser Blog ist erstaunlich. Wie kann ich es so gut aussehen?

  3. Brie says:

    To say that not every child on the spectrum needs speech-language services just goes to show the lack of education. Autism is a “Communication” based disorder. The various domains of speech and language are diverse within themselves including pragmatics, articulation, voice, fluency, motor, swallowing, expressive language, and receptive language, Even higher functioning children with autism require services daily because although they may excel academically they have a poor social skills. We are trying to help these children be self-sufficient to the maximum extent possible in their adult lives. I hope these idiots who voted in the reduction of services and I don’t care what they want to call it but that’s what it is, are happy paying for these children’s adult lives because they certainly will not be able to contribute to society unless their parents can pay for services privately. Read the research.. There is evidence that supports these services being provided and shows results and it will be a lot cheaper in the long run.

  4. JoAnne says:

    Reducing speech therapy for autistic children does them a terrible disservice. Other more logical ways to save money must be found so these children can be given the assistance they so greatly need.

  5. mary m says:

    This is WRONG-my husband and I pay for extra therapy for our son outside of school and we are very fortunate that we can do that-I feel so sorry for the many families that can’t- for most people, the services the child receives in school are ALL that child receives. We know that earlier, aggressive treatment of autism gives children the best prognosis so what are families supposed to do?? Why are we cutting back on this when we actually need more help, not less!! With all the WASTE in the government, the abuse of Mediaid, it is such a disservice, a CRIME to withhold this critical therapy from our children and families.

  6. Mark says:

    I feel very sad for these children. It is very common that important things like this get cut by people who are not affected by those cuts.

  7. Diane says:

    What are you doing to our special kids? first of all they can’t handle large groups. In order for them to be successful they need MORE one on one. It don’t matter how these kids got this way. What does matters is how are they going to get more education and help to be successful. We have so many kids that are needy and the state of NY keeps cutting into those kids programs. They can learn. Stop taking away from these kids. Invest in these kids. What ever happen to NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND? NY is leaving these kids behind and shame on you. Give these kids a chance.

  8. Oma says:

    These decisions are obviously made by ignorant people who have NO personal connections to children with autism. If a child with autism lived in their home, you can bet that they would think twice about denying these precious children their rights. I am appalled and deeply disappointed with my State. Just another reason to consider relocating.

  9. Katie Weisman says:

    Ken Gutmann’s comment is disingenous. There is no reason that these services can’t be provided in a typical setting and therefore no reason that they should impact a child’s ability to access other important programs. There is also some confusion that the regulation required speech and language therapy (implying that it needed to be provided by a speech therapist), The regulation said that a child’s individual language needs needed to be addressed on a daily basis, so the school districts already had the flexibility they needed and, in fact, many districts were addressing those needs in other ways. This change is purely about cutting costs and is short-sighted.
    I run a local support group for parents of spectrum kids and I do not know a single spectrum child (regardless of function level) that doesn’t have a level of language need that warrants daily help. For the higher-functioning children, the needs are generally in reading comprehension and use of language in social situations so that they can fit in and not be bullied and picked on. For the more-impacted children, language needs are intense. Getting children functional communication almost always cuts down difficult behavior and will result in much better outcomes and fewer costs to taxpayers over the long haul. I sincerely hope that the Regents will revisit this issue.

  10. Ann Cole says:

    I saddened to see the mandates decreasing. Many school districts already interpret these mandates differently, so by at least having the mandate, a parent has a platform to make the case in a CPSE or CSE meeting. Pragmatic and social language are key deficits for this population that are not being addressed as it is. To lessen the push for the service is a discredit to the ASD populaiont. Share on you!

  11. Julie Penny says:

    Yet another blow for children with autism. Without mandates, services die on the vine. This is a wrong-headed move by the Regents whereby, in the short and long run, kids and their families will suffer…as will society who will have to eventually pick up the tab when these kids grow up.

  12. Anne Dachel says:

    Autism now affects one percent of children and almost 2 percent of boys. Health officials continue to scratch their heads over the epidemic numbers of autistic children everywhere.
    It should be realized that what autism is costing our schools is nothing compared to what will happen to social services in the coming years as these children age into adulthood. If we do not do
    everything to make these kids productive members of society, the cost of lifetime care and support will be like an economic tsunami. And it will fall to the states to cover the cost of care.

    We hear from a school official who tells us that some children don’t need speech therapy, but we don’t hear from any parents who say that they think speech is wasted on their autistic children. Cutting services
    now may save money for school districts but in the long run, the cost of care will fall to the states. The future is bleak for children with autism.

    Anne Dachel
    Media editor: Age of Autism

  13. G. Finn says:

    Hey Nate C
    Obviously your are not a parent of an autistic child. We are not anti-vaccines but pro-safety. The MMR shot was separtely given when we were children. And my son blood tested positive for mercury. The measles mumps and rubella were separate shots when we were children. If a baby is born with a compromised immune system these shots can aggravate that condition. My son was born with cord wrapped around his neck and then the doctors gave him 2 shots within 3 days of being born. If you stopped reading headlines and heard the 1st hand experiences we parents go through you would not be so self righteous. Instead of screaming your propaganda how about your theory on what causes autism and what cures you have in mind. You have alot of rage too bad you can’t use it for something constructive

  14. RimlandFanWA says:

    school districts are notorious for billing medicaid (read: federal government) for Speech and Occupational Therapy services and then whining that there is not enough money in their budget to cover these services. Lou, John, Bob- please look into doing FOIA’s on New York SD’s medicaid billing for these services, and you will likely see that they are actually profiting from providing services to the kids. Last time a parent did this in my state, they found out the school was charging about $265 for an hour of speech, because they were allowed to bill medicaid for administrative costs, etc. Talk about padding the bill! SD’s should not eemploy SLP’s, those should be private contractors- it would cut costs WAY down!

  15. autismfather says:

    This is only the beginning of the blowback. The myth that autism is not increasing must be maintained, thanks to the CDC and AAP, so therefore the cost of autism education must not increase. Clearly the cost of education for these children has increased exponentially, so since autism has always been with us at current rates , then we must be wasting money providing unnecessary services (insert some sarcasm here)! Get a clue. Autism is epidemic and the costs will cripple school systems. Welcome to the United States of Autism, now servicing 1 in 40 boys!!!

  16. Maurine Meleck says:

    Clearly, Nate, you are totally un-educated. A number of studies(none of which you have read I am sure) have demonstrated a link between vaccines and autism. Stop being the drug companies and government’s mouthpiece and learn to think for yourself.
    This new law flies in the face of all those chidlren suffering from autism. New York used to have the best speech therapy services in the county. Now I guess it will return to a state like ours, for example, where that mandate never existed and speech therapies were few. Shame on New York, shame on the US government. We did what you asked(we vaccinated our chidlren) and now you turn your backs on our children.

  17. Kimberly Wilder says:

    There was mercury in vaccines. That is a fact.

    I am sure that it could not have helped the developing brains of children.

  18. Luu says:

    We live in scary times when businessmen are making decisions about the education, and, ultimately, the fates of our children. I am disgusted.

    1. linda smith says:

      i could not agree with you more… why not parents –or teachers the way this is going these children/adults on the spectrum will have NO future …as it is it’s hard enough!!!!

  19. Joseph I. Weiss says:

    This is not about vaccines, this is about Education and how best to educate children with autism. The New York State Board of Regents decision violates the Education of All Hanicapped Children Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Only legal action against the Board will force them to undo the removal of this mandate.

  20. Alan Foos says:

    Like many parents, we went through absolute hell fighting the school district over the proper diagnosis, treatment and personal safety for our son. Indeed, it took 15 years of wrangling with medical shuck and jive before I finally became informed enough to know that he was classically autistic, and though it had always been plain as day that the problem was caused by vaccines, it took that long also to discover the extent of the government and medical lies and the epidemic of autism. The best thing the gov could do it to ban the use of vaccines and quit lying to people about the damages they cause and the phoney claims that they prevent disease. That isn’t very likely, but might as well save your tax dollars if the treatments don’t really address the problem anyway, but leave your family entirely destroyed.

    1. Nate C says:

      Clearly you are a completely UN-educated and UN-informed individual that you are blaming vaccines for an idiopathic condition. Vaccines DO NOT cause autism, and the research from the crackpot Brit physician who said it was has be discredited numerous times especially since he falsified information, created research bias, and didn’t conduct a proper study. You should be ashamed of yourself for using your son to propagate a liberal, hippie agenda. The benefits of vaccinations of children have saved millions (if not billions) of lives so far in the world and they continue to save lives. We have for the most part eliminated smallpox, rinderpest, and very soon polio and hopefully measles. However, the only way we can eradicate a disease is with vaccination, and when people fight against eradication, you only create a greater problem to society with the continuation of these diseases. Admittedly, there are some risks to vaccines, but the risks of vaccines include immunocompromised individuals (people who have immunodeficiency disorders whether genetic or acquired) developing the infection (seen with only live attenuated vaccines), fever, fatigue, and injection-site related pain and rash, but NOT autism, so please stuff your anti-vaccine propaganda in the trash.

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