Epilepsy Foundation

Virginia School Says No to a Seizure Dog

Fox News is reporting on a disturbing story in Fairfax County, Va. A 12-year-old boy with a rare and severe form of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, is being denied his right to bring a seizure-detecting service dog to school. Andrew Stevens was home schooled until his mother decided he should return to public school so he could be around other kids. The family raised $20,000 to get Alliya, a seizure detecting dog. But Andrew's school says that because he has a disability, he can't manage the dog if he has a seizure.


Andrew's family is fighting back, citing the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I'm glad the family is taking action and not accepting the decision of the school. The Fox site has an area to post comments on the story. Be sure to let them know what you think!


The Epilepsy Foundation supports the right of people with epilepsy to use trained service dogs. If you have experienced discrimination because of epilepsy or chronic seizures, contact our Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund. For more information and resources on Lennox-Gastaut, visit our parents Web site that provides support and information to parents of children with epilepsy.

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Comment by Lisa Boylan on May 3, 2011 at 12:31pm

Comment by Lisa Boylan on January 7, 2011 at 2:38pm

I posted an updateon the family. They testified last night before the Fairfax County school board. It was great to meet them!

Comment by Stephen Harris-Leach on January 7, 2011 at 1:08am

then why did the district get away with it so easy?

Comment by Stephen Harris-Leach on January 6, 2011 at 10:02pm

and if they dont comply there should be some prision time

Comment by Lisa Boylan on January 6, 2011 at 2:04pm

There will be a candlelight vigil tonight in Fairfax County for Andrew and his family. Members of the Epilepsy Foundation--including me--will be there showing our support. I'll report more on the event. Stay tuned...

Comment by Stephen Harris-Leach on January 5, 2011 at 12:05am


Why would he only get 2 weeks? it should be manditory for him to bring his dog to school.

Comment by Stephen Harris-Leach on January 4, 2011 at 3:21pm

"white House"

Comment by Mary Lou Connolly on January 4, 2011 at 11:46am


Glad you posted this--saw it on Today just a while ago. The whole service/assistance dog issue is confusing as states regs can differ and I guess, school districts as well. Bottom line (seems to me) is that Fairfax is denying this young man's accomodation re his disability. And, from this site, I gather there are major differences in what some states view as a disability as well.

So....I'm feeling we are fortunate to be in California where Michael's seizure dog, Katie can accompany him anywhere and has gone to two campuses with him for the past 3-4 years. The training was intense and Michael is a certified handler. The assistance dog organization (Katie is from) is certified by a national organization. I am guessing that the certification makes them  more credible when up against someone such as the Fairfax school district.

On another note, we had many issues with school systems PRIOR to the college level. Very few teachers viewed epilepsy as a long term chronic condition that impacted learning among so many other things. The difference between grammar and high school versus community college and finally the state college system was light years. Colleges (at least in our experience) have solid programs for disabled (yes, they use the word) students. The programs employ counselors who work with students on course/career choices, steer the students to campus resources and promote student independence and achievement. I am glad we survived the earlier years to get to this point. I'm puzzled though why the younger grades lack such comprehensive service in their special ed programs. Again, this was/is our personal experience and it might be different elsewhere. (though I doubt it----know too many parents with children who have epilepsy who spend years trying to find the right school).

At any rate, I will be watching to see how this plays out and hopeful that the young man is able to attend school with his dog.

Comment by Lisa Boylan on January 4, 2011 at 10:59am

The Today Show features Andrew and his mom telling their story: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/40907000/ns/today-today_health/ It was on this morning!

Comment by Stephen Harris-Leach on January 4, 2011 at 12:26am



looks like service dogs arent popular in school

Comment by Stephen Harris-Leach on January 4, 2011 at 12:21am

is this all because they dont want to get sued because a child got bitten?

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