Susan's Blog

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why Autism Families Should Vote Democrat

Several readers have written to me saying, “I’m an autism parent,” or “I have ASD,” AND “I’m voting Republican.”

I have been wringing my hands trying to figure out how to explain to special needs families how this decision will harm their own children. If your child is in public school, and on an IEP, he/she is getting supports and services paid for by the federal government, the state government, and in most cases, their own city or town. That “big government” that you despise is taking care of your publicly educated children — with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and No Child Left Behind funds and federal aid to cities and states.

If you have a child on an IEP, are you satisfied with the services he/she is receiving? If not, have you been told about The Strained Budget? If you have heard that there’s not enough money in the budget, that is partly because the federal government has only partially funded IDEA and public education, year after year. Yes, that’s correct. It is lack of adequate public money that accounts for the services you complain about. Without even that amount, you would have little or nothing for your child.

So, yes, it costs a lot of money to educate our kids. There is no getting around it. And perhaps some of that is waste, or some horribly corrupt story you read about in the paper. But by and large, the expense of special education is about the cost of paying specialists and teachers who need to get trained so that we are satisfied with how they treat our kids. Again, if you are not satisfied, that is probably because there is not enough money — enough public money from the government: local, state, and federal — to pay for this. If there were more, you’d have more. Less is not more. Less is less. Is that what you want for your kid? You know it isn’t.

If you want a smaller federal government and you want to pay lower taxes to it, then be prepared for your state and local taxes to go up. Or you will see a serious decline in the services your child gets. It is that simple.

We don’t want it to, but special education, costs money. Lots of money. Not military-level lots of money, but still, a good chunk of a town and state budget. If you don’t want to have to pay more in town taxes and state taxes, you will have to pay more to the federal government –or do without. Do you really want your autistic child to do with less than he’s already getting?

Government programs are for the greater good. They cost money because they do serious things to help people live and be educated and work. If your life is perfect, and you have a lot of money to pay for a private education, and to set up your adult autistic child with whatever supports he many need, then thank your lucky stars. But if you are like most of us, let’s say that number is 99%, then you should vote Democrat and for public funds. You should vote for a government that is willing to raise taxes on corporations and oil companies and the very very wealthy who can afford it. You should not vote for the government that claims to give you more in your own pocket.

And you should ask yourself, which is the more selfish of the two? The government that tries to help the needy and educate our challenging children with tax money — or the government that says, “let them do it by themselves.”


You are just creating fear amongst the peolple. The republicans would not cutoff funds.

— added by Bob Rice on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

No, the truth is what is scary. Read Ryan’s budgets. And Romney has never been specific about how he’s going to save you money without raising taxes and without social program cuts. If I were you, I would not trust a man who is a polotical chameleon,who changes his colors depending on whom he’s talking to.

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Bob: can you point us to something that would relieve our fears? What convinces you that they would not cut off funds?

The Republicans are currently fanatic about cutting spending. They refuse to consider any other solution to the deficit problem. When details are provided, as in Ryan’s budget proposals, they emphasize ending services to those in need. Romney has made promises without specifics, and those that have tried to fill in specifics say it would require eliminating many popular tax breaks, therefore is probably not realistic.

No one on the Republican side has found a way to remove these fears, other than hand-waving promises that it will all work out in the end.

If you have a source that makes clear funds will not be reduced, please point us to it.

— added by Ned Batchelder on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Hi Bob,

I am pasting here something I wrote in March (long before Paul Ryan was the V.P. candidate):

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has made a budget proposal that, if enacted, would have a dramatic impact on long-term care for individuals with disabilities. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, you need to be aware of the implications of the Ryan proposal for people with disabilities.

According to the Arc, three key elements would be:

* An $810 billion cut in Medicaid over 10 years (a 33% cut);

* Medicaid would be converted to a block grant to the states;

* All “dual eligibles” would be placed entirely in the Medicare program.

Let’s look at the implications of this.

* The elderly and individuals with disabilities represent 25% of Medicaid beneficiaries, but represent 2/3 of Medicaid spending. A 33% cut to the Medicaid budget will disproportionately affect individuals with disabilities.

* Block granting Medicaid would eliminate the individual entitlement to Medicaid. Translated into everyday life, it would remove the right to receive PCA services, Adult Foster Care and Group Adult Foster Care. These services are currently the only source of long-term services and supports for individuals not served through DDS (aside from SSI and Sec. 8), and are also used by individuals receiving DDS supports other than group homes and shared living. It is worth remembering at this point that only about 25% of individuals served by DDS receive group home or shared living supports at age 22.

* Dual eligibles are individuals eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. When a parent of an adult with a disability receiving SSI retires, dies or becomes disabled, the adult with a disability will (after a certain waiting period) become a dual eligible. If dual eligibles are moved exclusively onto Medicare, they will lose all eligibility for PCA services, Adult Foster Care and Group Adult Foster Care. In addition , the cost to the state of Mass. of individuals on the Medicaid waiver residing in group homes who become dual eligibles would double, as Medicaid pays half the cost of such placements.

End of pasted portion. Here I will add that, according to the CDC, about 41% of people with autism have an intellectual disability, meaning that they are ineligible to receive adult services from DDS in Massachusetts. Medicaid services are the only option for those with an IQ above 70 in this state. This includes specific individuals I know of who can’t safely cross a street, cannot bathe themselves, and have meltdowns requiring a five person restraint.

Thanks for listening.

— added by Catherine Boyle on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Bob Rice, you are obviously not from my state. Since we have elected a Republican governor, funding for education and Medicaid have been cut, as well as funding for local governments. So the school districts are all having to put up new levies (and most of them are not passing) and the local governments are cutting back a lot too, even important departments like fire. There is no reason to think that a Republican president who has promised to cut budgets, wouldn’t.

Susan doesn’t have to create fear in me, I was having nightmares (for real) before she wrote her first post on this subject.

— added by Ohio Mom on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Thank you Susan for this great post. You are not creating fear!
If Mr. Rice thinks Republicans would not cut off funding, then he has had his head somewhere else apparently.

— added by Sarah Conley on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 6:15 am

Democrate (Liberal) style programs include daycare for everyone – which thankfully, they never put in here instead that “REPUBLICAN” (Conservative) Federal gov’t gave every parent $100/mth up to the age of 6 to do with as they pleased – aka for us it meant staying home.

That “Democrate” Liberal provincial gov’t decided on full day kindergarten and–toronto-district-school-board-hatches-plan-to-retrain-education-assistants 400 EA’s got pulled out of the regular classrooms and put into the kindergarten one’s so all those kids in regular classes that require EA’s… GONE!!! Oh, and the move only cost 1.5B to do across the Province.

Then lets talk about the many BILLION dollar messes over the last 9yrs from Gas plants (moved so they could keep their seat last year in the election – btw, that was #2 in as many years), to ORNGE (air ambulance), E Health (electronic records) etc. Teacher’s got a 25% wage increase over 9yrs and the Disability caregivers keep fighting for pennies in increases AND last year they increased disability payouts by 1%. (bottom is the disability increase – they weren’t going to increase it at all) Then there’s the thousands of disable people in Ontario that have no where to go because the LIBERAL gov’ts decided that residential facilities were “evil” instead of auditing them and tossed the residents into the streets. It is normal across Canada for this to occur for those that need help. All we can do is hope that from this they finally take mental health and disability seriously in this “much more left than you” country.

No Child left behind was put in by your REPUBLICAN gov’t under Bush.

It is well documented that REPUBLICAN’s give to charity not DEMOCRATES.

Right now you are so far into debt that the slapping at China is rather ironic since they are your banker. Truth is, that mess in Europe is no joke. The recession is not over but the rest of the world sits on the edge waiting for either Europe to get it’s act together or tip us over the edge.

The left crowd thinks abortion is dandy…. the right thinks your child has the right to life.

You should check the voting record of both parties. BUT, Europe isn’t over and the US is over it’s head in debt. Sorry, something’s gotta give and whether you vote for a party you assume will protect you…. It probably won’t. Which is why I always vote at “home” first (the actual candidate), and then for the party itself. So, for now, well into next year this is what we get.
while this continues right across the Province

Now, lastly, while you sit and talk Federal politics remember that most of what you want may be State/Provincial services. When monies are downloaded are they downloaded for a particular program or they downloaded into general revenues. First you might get something the second you won’t. Also, what services are a State or a Fed jurisdiction. Your States have more autonomy than our Provinces. Gay marriage, abortion etc here is a Federal issue. There you vote on many of these things on a State wide vote so your energy may be better spent nagging the State instead. I can scream at the Feds for forever and a day and the disability services will not improve across the Province. Jail sentencing under 2yrs is Prov, over is Fed.

So, keep that in mind too when you vote.

Vote for the guy at home first… he’s the one you have to deal with and you want the one that represents your views no matter what the party.

Just my nickel’s worth. FWIW, I’ve been known to switch which parties I vote for over the years and I spend a lot of time researching the truth, not the crap in the news.

— added by farmwifetwo on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 7:43 am

Of people like Mr. Rice I often say, to the extent that his family members with disabilities recieve the supports and services they need to live decent, fulfilled lives, it is the result of ME voting always for liberal candidates and social services levies. And to the extent that my family member with a disability does not receive the supports and services he needs, it is the result of people like Mr. Rice.

It doesn’t seem a fair trade at all.

— added by Ohio Mom on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

We are at a crossroads. The United States has to stop spending money it doesn’t have or eventually there are not going to be any entitlement programs for anyone. Think it can’t happen? Look at Greece and Spain and other countries in Europe that have long provided generous public funded stuff for people such as health care, day care, government-mandated certain length vacations, retirement at age 50 and on and on. Conservatives, at least many, would accept tax increases IF government spending were cut in real terms, not smoke and mirror cuts that aren’t real. For many reasons, a large group of people who aren’t disabled who believe they are entitled to things is growing. Once the takers outnumber the producers, no one will be in a good place. What makes people think when things are bad for everyone somehow they are still going to be compassionate for the disabled and others for whom there should be a safety net? Romney and Ryan are not going to get rid of any entitlement programs. We need politicians on both side of the aisle who are committed to doing what is needed for the greater good. Entitlement programs need to undergo some changes so they won’t collapse. Receiving Social Security was set at age 65 because when it was established, the majority of people didn’t live decades beyond then. Programs such as ESOL are greatly adding to education costs, but in the same school district you have parents camping out to enroll their elementary school children in language immersion programs. So which works? I could go on all day, but the bottom line is we are at a junction. Socially, things are getting beyond what a reasonable person should have to tolerate. Several days ago someone told me in San Francisco the nudists say they have a right to go around in public nude, including riding public transportation in the buff. Instead of shutting that down, government officials supposedly have worked out a deal they can ride nude if they wear a government sanctioned loin cloth diaper thing. Don’t know if it’s true, but I can believe it, having lived in California. My point is we are at the point in our country where we are talking about people riding the bus nude, that they have the right to do that. That is nuts. I choose to place the future of my disabled children on the side of politicians and political thought on the side that supports the sanctity of life. We are at a crossroads. We need to make changes while ever improving the lot of the truly vulnerable. In 2008, then candidate Barrack Obama said “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” that statement gave me the creeps then as I knew about some of the let’s say controversial people in President Obama’s background. If he wins reelection, we will find out for sure what he meant.

— added by Julie on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

Farmwife, I always find your take on life in Canada interesting but as I’ve said before, just because “Liberals” and “Conservatives” in Canada have done certain things does NOT mean this experience applies to life here in the United States. Believe me, no United Statesian “Conservative” would give families $100 a month per child, no strings attached!

Conservatives in my country are very, very stingy when it comes to helping out ordinary people. Democrats have also have their moments of stinginess (looking at you, Bill Clinton & your welfare reform) but they are still far ahead of contemporary Republicans(once upon a time, Republicans were more generous than they are now, that’s why I use the adjective “contemporary”).

You might as well rail that people in England call “pacificers” “dummies”, and people in the US call a certain type of puppet a “dummy,” for this is what is happening here, two different countries which supposedly use the same language use specific words to mean very different things.

— added by Ohio Mom on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm

As for everyone who is worried about how many US bonds China holds, here are two Paul Krugman columns explaining why you can relax (never heard of him? He won the Nobel Prize for Economics and he teaches at Princeton). There are many more but if you have made it this far into the internet, I know you can google:

The following Guardian article explains that MOST of the US debt is OWNED MOSTLY IN THE US, NOT CHINA. Let me repeat that in slightly different words, China does *not* own the *majority* of the US debt, United Statesians do.

Of the portion of the US debt that is owned OUTSIDE the US, yes, the largest single share is in China, but almost the same amount is owed to JAPAN! Did you know that? You didn’t? Well maybe you should re-evaluate where it is you are getting your information because your sources are short-changing you.

I know it is extremely difficult to be faced with information that contradicts a world view that you hold dearly; it takes a certain kind of maturity and intellectual courage to realize you have to change your mind if you want to hold opinions based on facts rather than ideology. I know because I have changed my mind as I’ve learned new things and sometimes it has been very painful. So good luck to all of you with open minds!

— added by Ohio Mom on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm

The thing is, Ohio Mom, that folks who believe the way Julie does are mostly moved by what she calls the “sanctity of life,” meaning that if you favor the mother’s life, you are somehow on lower moral ground. And also, if you characterize alternative lifestyles (like being gay) as someone riding nude on a bus or wearing a loincloth, you are simply seeing what you want to see. Some would say that we “Libs” only see what we want to see, but the difference is, we look at the facts put out by neutral think tanks (Kaiser Foundation for example) whose study shows that a Romney-like budget would cut 1.7 Trillion from Medicaid). Julie has also stated that she does not think people falling on hard times would have compassion at all for the even less fortunate. To that I say, “That is precisely why we need to have laws and public institutions that protect and aid the less able. It is because of the bitter winds of change that we must put systems in place — like Medicaid and IDEA — to be sure we are not blown off the course of compassion, of the Social Contract. We cannot depend on private donations or the Rugged Individual to do right. Only a higher power, a government for the people, with compassion written into its laws and appropriations can stand the test of time.”

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I do see your point here. This post should be read by your so called great advocate and friends for autism in the town of Dover, MA. Contributions to Romney and so on. Guess they must have the big bucks not to worry about Medicaid and all the other issues mentioned here? MA. is really full of hypocrites when it comes to autism IMO.

— added by advocate yet republicans?? on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

You know, I tried googling nude bus riders in California, and I tried it with several different word orders and combinations, and the closest I got was an annual nude bike ride (that occurs in 70 cities in 20 different countries, with at least one of the races in California).

Because even though people wearing lionclothes on the bus sounded um, very unlikely (like why wouldn’t exisitng public nudity laws apply?) I like to check things out and not assume I know things I might not really. I kinda doubt Julie is going to follow any of my links though (if you’re reading this, prove me wrong!).

— added by Ohio Mom on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I have a thirteen year old son with autism. You may be misinformed about Federal Funding for Education: “The Department of Education grants each state 11 cents out of every dollar it spends on education. Unfortunately, every dollar of this money comes with 16 cents of strings attached. States that accept federal funding lose five cents for every dollar spent on education to pay for federal mandates and regulations, taking millions of dollars out of the classroom.” Put the millions of dollars back into the schools under the State’s control. Use that money to help special needs children, art, band, sports etc.

— added by Angela on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Uh… what’s your source? I agree that states could use more money. Where will that come from, if not the federal government. And, if we don’t have “strings,” i.e., mandates and regulations, how will our children be protected. The IEP is a big string… yet without it, our kids would have zip.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

[Post was edited to remove actual names because I do not allow attacks on actual private citizens, especially if they are friends of mine.]

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Ohio Mom, google Nudists riding BART and search results showing, eighth one down should be Ewwww. Click on that link and you will see at least one piece of evidence this exists unless censors get there first.

— added by Julie on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

It’s hard for me to believe the disabled are going to get more services if people don’t have jobs. I challenge brave liberals to go to and read Sunday’s editorial, “Wishful thinking about an Obama second term” and the column, “Racial divide worse under Obama” by Star Parker. Then refute, please.

— added by Julie on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm

So let me get this straight, you are adament about convincing people to vote Democrat so funding does not get reduced or cut off for thousands upon thousands of individuals in need yet the very autism parents who claim to advocate for autistic kids are in effect working against you and other parents to put Romney in place who will cut off or reduce this funding…and yet these people are your very good friends. Sorry Susan but that is just plain hypocritical.

— added by ? on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 6:41 pm

@Ned Batchelder: Cutting spending is not about reducing the deficit; it is about making the deficit irrelevant. This article explains it pretty well:

— added by Steve on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I am not being a hypocrite. Some of my autism friends no doubt are voting for Romney. That doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends. I would love it if all of the people I know and love would vote Democrat but that ain’t gonna happen. I have lots of friends with whom I don’t completely agree about everything. Don’t you?

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Thanks for the googling tip Julie. Looks like public nudism is indeed a fad in the Castro neighborhood. I stand corrected.

Still not sure how that relates to who is president and still no evidence you’ve tried to do what I did, which is test out something I believe — in this case, that nude people riding public transportation sounded extremely unlikely — and find out and admit that I was wrong.

As for people with disabilities getting more services under a Democratic administration, well, the Health Care Act already does that. I don’t think that any of us on the liberal side expect as you put it, the the “disabled are going to get more services.” We are just terrified that the services that are currently provided will be reduced beyond recognition. We think that because that is what the Romney/Ryan team are promising to do and we take them at their word.

— added by Ohio Mom on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

Who speaks for babies left to die when the abortion goes wrong? Not only are these babies left to die doctors are instructed to do nothing to help. If our president supports this who is next.?

— added by mary on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:50 am

“Who speaks for babies left to die”? I am not sure, but I don’t trust that it will be a Romney-Ryan administration, given their party’s rhetoric on individual responsibility, on cutting funds for babies AFTER they are born (cut pre-K, Head Start, cut funding for special education, other programs, adult services etc).
This discussion should not go in the direction of abortion issues, but bringing that up just shines a spotlight on the negatives of the party who cares more about the unborn than the born, and intrudes into women’s and doctors’ medical decisions while preaching about the evils of big government.
To say nothing about the lack of any scientific facts when advocating passionately against women’s rights (e.g. legitimate rape, women’s bodies shut down to prevent pregnancy, etc.)

— added by S on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I agree with you on many points Susan.
We must vigorously protect our children’s access to the services they need. It is cost effective for the taxpayers in the long run!
However, we need much more accountability from the NIH in terms of how they spend (and often waste autism research funds). This is a non partisan issue. I have been appalled how unelected bureaucrats spend what little autism research money we have on so many redundant studies. Endless eye gazing and genetic research that hasn’t delivered on its promises. We need to see here and now treatment research, especially for children over the age of 3.

Whoever you vote for today please remember to be an active consumer and call you congressperson and senator when discussions for service cuts arise and when Inter Agency Autism Committee fails to fund the research we need.

— added by Katie Wright on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm


And congrats on your new senator Susan. She’s going to be fun to watch in action and a treasure all around.

— added by Ohio Mom on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 8:14 am

Thank God common sense and compassion prevailed. I am proud of this country. And thank you, OHIO Mom!

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 9:39 am