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Court Orders Reinstatement of Vital, Cost-Saving Treatment for Children With Autism

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday issued a preliminary injunction in the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of children with autism against the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center (ELARC) for unlawfully terminating the most effective treatment for their condition.

The order in the Benito R., et al. v. ELARC case requires ELARC to reinstate funding for Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based ("DIR") treatment services for a class of children with autism served by the center, including children who have recently been diagnosed with autism and need the treatment program but have not yet received it.  ELARC, a nonprofit agency through which the state provides statutorily required services to people with disabilities, suddenly and illegally eliminated funding for the treatment after more than 10 years of providing it to hundreds, if not thousands, of mostly low-income children with autism.

"DIR has successfully treated 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 members of society.   This decision ensures that these children continue to receive this vital treatment program and prevents further regression and harm."

"ELARC's termination of DIR was based on a misapplication of the so-called 'Trailer Bill,'" explains Laura Faer, Directing Attorney of Public Counsel's Children's Rights Project.  "The bill prohibits Regional Centers like ELARC from funding 'experimental' treatments.  It was never intended to suspend proven, effective and cost-saving treatments like DIR that change children's lives and prevent state-funded hospitalization and institutionalization."

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