Like seeing-eye dogs for the blind, trained dogs are now being used to help autistic children deal with their disabilities. But some schools want to keep the animals out--and families are fighting back.

Two autistic elementary school students recently won court orders in Illinois allowing their dogs to accompany them to school. Their lawsuits follow others in California and Pennsylvania over schools' refusal to allow dogs that parents say calm their children, ease transitions, and even keep the kids from running into traffic.

At issue is whether the dogs are true "service dogs"--essential to managing a disability--or simply companions that provide comfort.


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