Problem Solvers: Parents fight to keep RV for autistic son

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DENVER -- An RV specially equipped for a non-verbal autistic boy is at the center of a neighborhood dispute in Douglas County.  The Lofland family moved to Perry Park, which sits in the foothills just west of Larkspur, to get away from the rules of a homeowners' association in Greenwood Village.

Perry Park doesn’t have a homeowners' association but it does have an Architectural Control Committee. The ACC says the family RV violates neighborhood covenants which state, "No recreational or trailered vehicles shall be placed and remain on the lot for more than 48 hours unless parked in a garage.”

But the parents of 12-year-old William point out the covenant appears to be selectively enforced, because several neighbors keep a motor home or trailer in their driveway. “They have one, they have one, down the street two more have one,” said Mom Hannah Lofland, who pointed out several RV’s along her street to the FOX31 Problem Solvers.

Hannah and her husband Chris say their RV is medically necessary for their autistic son because he suffers from a sensory perception disorder.

“The motion, the vibration, it just calms him,” said dad Chris Lofland. Several times a day, often in the middle of the night, Williams goes for a ride in the RV that is equipped with a bed, bathroom,  DVD player, and restraints in case their severely autistic son William has a  violent outburst.

“Honest to God I`d like to be driving a Ferrari not an RV at two o`clock in the morning. This is not a choice,” said Hannah Lofland.

But the president of the ACC, Jim Cassidy, told FOX31 the RV is an eyesore.

When FOX31 asked him about other RV’s in the neighborhood, the following exchange ensued between Problem Solver Rob Low and Cassidy:

Jim Cassidy: "She`s playing you for a fool, F-O-O-L,  a fool."
Rob Low: "Why don`t you have concerns about the other RVs?"
Jim Cassidy: "We do, there are no other RVs in here."
Rob Low: "Walk 100 yards, you`ll see an RV across the street."
Jim Cassidy: "Where, where?"
Rob Low: "Come out with me."
Jim Cassidy: "I don`t need to."
Rob Low: "There`s an RV a hundred yards down the street on the left side."
Jim Cassidy: "Really, where?"
Rob Low: "I just said 100 yards down the street on the left side."
Jim Cassidy: "Prove it to me."

Cassidy refused to walk down the street with FOX31 and the Loflands said he won’t try to walk in their shoes either. "That blows me away.  I don’t see why they are always hassling us and they know it’s for a little boy that needs that,” said Chris Lofland.

The family has offered to show the ACC a prescription from Children’s Hospital Colorado that explains their son’s need for an RV.  It reads in part, "An emergency room visit is avoided by using the RV to drive William over rolling hills or bumpy roads, thereby satisfying his need for sensory input.

It is required to be onsite as these 'meltdowns' occur without provocation."

Pointing to her son’s nose, Hannah Lofland told FOX31, “See those marks on his nose? Those marks are self-inflicted from the iPad. You know being a parent, watching your child hit his nose so hard it almost breaks. If this is all that it takes (an RV ride) to keep that from happening, I would do it 24/7.”

When FOX31’s Rob Low offered to show the prescription to Cassidy he replied, “You are a fool who`s trying to make a presence on TV." Low responded, so if you saw whether it was from her, her attorney or from God, if you saw the prescription from Children`s Hospital would that satisfy you?" Cassidy answered, "Not necessarily."

The Lofland’s attorney has sent the ACC a letter saying the ACC’s attempt to make the family store its RV off-site may be a violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act, which requires an “accommodation must be reasonable.”

The Lofland’s have filed a housing complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, claiming the ACC is violating the FFHA. Investigators with HUD told FOX 31 they will make a decision soon if there are grounds to open an investigation against the ACC.

In the meantime, the Loflands are refusing to remove their RV from the side of their house. “He (William) needs it, there’s no compromise there,” said Chris Lofland.

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