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Class Action Suit Filed to Defend Rights of Children With Autism to Vital, Cost-Saving Treatment
Date:1/14/2010

said Benito's mother, a low-income single mom who works full time. "Without this help, I would never be able to take Benito out into the world, even to do simple things like grocery shopping for fear of what might happen.  I'm worried that he will revert back to the way he was, aggressive, dangerous and unable to interact even with me."

Like the other class members, Benito is entitled to these services under California's Lanterman Act, which was enacted to prevent the institutionalization of developmentally disabled persons.  In particular, the Act prohibits the unilateral termination of authorized and necessary services.

"Raising a child with autism on a limited income is hard enough," said Brian Capra, Staff Attorney at Public Counsel. "ELARC has broken the law meant to protect those families and children and done so in a way that leaves them without options.  It's inexplicable and wrong."

ELARC's termination of DIR is based on a misapplication of the so-called "Trailer Bill," which was passed by the California legislature last July, and prohibits Regional Centers like ELARC from, among other things, funding "experimental treatments."

"Far from being 'experimental,' DIR has successfully treated thousands of children with autism in 33 states and in countries throughout the world," said John Sharer of the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  "Over the past 20 years, it has substantially improved the quality of their lives and has transformed many of these children into fully-functioning, well-adjusted members of society."

ELARC is also the only regional center, out of seven in Los Angeles County, to have misinterpreted the new legislation in this way.  Attorneys for the case have learned that DIR programs are
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