Donated dog for autistic child meets opposition This article is from our local news here in Dallas. What are your thoughts on service dogs in class? Would it be beneficial for all? Too much of a distraction? What about kids who are scared of dogs or have Sensory Integration Disorder? Just curious what your thoughts are... 12:24 AM CDT on Thursday, March 29, 2007 By STEVE STOLER / WFAA-TV WYLIE - A mother's fight to make life easier for her four-year-old autistic son got a helping hand while also meeting up with a barrier. Lori Ruscitti's friends and neighbors came together and raised enough money to buy the family a service dog. But there's one big problem, his school district won't allow dogs to attend class. Every day is a constant struggle for Colton Ruscitti, who is autistic. Last year, the boy wandered away from his home and fell out of a two-story window. "We can't watch him 24-hours-a-day," Mrs. Ruscitti said. "It's impossible. We need help." Help came in the form of a dog named "Charlie," who is a specially trained service dog the family hopes will keep Colton safe and secure. The Wylie and Murphy communities helped raise $14,000 to give the family the dog, which will happen in May. "That dog provides security for them," Ruscitti said of the easing effect dogs have on autistic children. "It helps calm them down. It reduces meltdowns." Mrs. Ruscitti met with Wylie Independent School District officials who listened, but announced that Charlie will not be allowed into the classrooms. "[I feel] disappointment because autism is so rampant," Mrs. Ruscitti said. "It's not going anywhere. This is just another tool to help these children." WISD Superintendent John Fuller gave a statement Wednesday that said the district doesn't allow pets in classrooms, including dogs. The only exception is the use of service dogs that are trained to provide assistance to students with special needs such as blindness, physical disability or lack of mobility. There was no mention about autism. "Wylie just needs to step out of their box," Mrs. Ruscitti said. "There's not really a downside to allowing this dog in school." A final decision on Charlie could be made by a special needs committee before the start of the next school year.