School Forces 12-Year-Old Epileptic Boy to Leave His Service Dog at Home

Filed under: In The News, Medical Conditions

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Andrew Stevens, 12, wears a padded helmet to prevent serious injury. But, unlike most kids, his helmet isn't for bike safety -- he wears it to protect his head during any of the 20 seizures he experiences on a daily basis.

Appearing on the Today show this morning, his mother, Nancy Stevens, explains that no medicine or surgery can help her son because the seizures, caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, occur on both sides of his brain. Andrew's one saving grace, however, is his service dog, Alaya. Alaya goes everywhere with Andrew and can detect when he is about to seize through a magnet on her collar. To lessen the severity of the seizure, "the dog licks his face and swipes her collar over a nerve stimulator in Andrew's chest," according to Today.

Alaya has restored some normalcy in Andrew's life by enabling him to play outside and even go to the bathroom unattended. But his freedom only goes so far. Fort Belovoir Elementary in Fairfax County, Va., will not allow Andrew to bring Alaya to school.

School officials fear that the boy might not be able to control his dog and that the other students may be in danger. "I think what they've done has really been an injustice to my son," Nancy Stevens tells Matt Lauer on Today, adding that "a service dog is trained very well" and that it will "not bite anybody at all."

Because of the school's decision, Andrew is currently being homeschooled. His parents are not giving up and are trying to come to an agreement with the school so that Andrew can return to the classroom.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.