Susan's Blog

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The New Lorax

I just wrote this to the Boston Globe, my state senator, and my state reps, regarding the proposed senate budget for Massachusetts. The two items I mention are only a few of the vital services being cut, but they jumped out at me, because in just three short years, Nat will require these. If you live in Massachusetts, write to your state senators NOW.

Oh, and by the way, I have noticed many many new trees being planted along Route 9, which is a state highway — newly paved, too, by the way. So Massachusetts money for trees and asphalt but not for vulnerable people? Call me the new Lorax: I speak for the disabled.

Dear Cindy,
I know you must realize that the Senate’s budget is nothing less than a horrorshow. They are gutting Transition Services and Day Services for adults with developmental disabilities. There will be nothing for these people to do with themselves all day. What will people like my autistic son Nat, now 19, do with a situation like this? He has come so far, due to his education, but he still will require support, and yet now the Senate is basically saying, “Oh, well, have a nice life.” There is no justification for these actions. None. This is nothing less than evil. I am asking you as a woman with a great record in human services and a great heart to stand up and read this email and tell them that they are wrong to make these cuts.
–Susan Senator

Here are some of the cuts proposed (taken from the ARCMass website):
· 6,500 adults will not get Day Habilitation services will have no place to go during the day because of the elimination of that program ($115 million cut).
· 730 individuals getting Extended Employment services through MRC will lose those services and likely lose their jobs or have no place to go during the day ($4.9 million cut).
· 10,000 families will lose crucial Family Support and DESE-DMR Services, a wide-ranging and cost-effective program that funds everything from respite to afterschool programs to specialized medical equipment, and helps keep families together ($32 million cut).
· 650 people will lose transportation services, which allows people with disabilities to get to their jobs, doctors appointments, grocery stores, etc.
· 608 students with disabilities transitioning from school to adult life will not get the services they need to make the transition successfully.
· Families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will see reductions in Autism Division, DESE-DMR and Family Support line-items

WHY FUNDING IS NEEDED: If these cuts go through, it will have a domino effect, impacting the 33,000 individuals with disabilities served through the Department of Developmental Services, not to mention those served through other agencies. Since 2006, DDS’ budget has grown just 1.8% per year in state-only dollars.


Sad and shortsighted. Good luck with the lobbying.

— added by Someone Said on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 5:52 am

that is outrageous. friggin’ a. trees are lovely yes, but over human beings?

i’m writing my letter.

— added by kyra on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 8:07 pm

I am gearing up to fight this battle myself. I just found out my son’s paraprofessional aide, has been fired due to “budget cuts” and that now he will have to share an aide with FOURTEEN other special needs children, which is completely unacceptable. Also, we have a new superintendent of schools where I live (Mobile, AL) whose new annual salary will be $250,000 per year, plus bonuses (never publically stated the amounts), plus a driving allowance to pay for fuel in his vehicle back and fourth to to work but he is only too happy to cut paraprofessional aids to special needs children because “we just don’t have the funds.” What lacking in this person is not funds but a conscience. So, I will now be forced into a fight so that my son can receive what will only meet his basic needs as stated in his IEP. Reasonably accommodate his disability is all I ask. He can be educated to one day become a taxpaying adult or be insitutionalized for life. Which one “saves” more money?

— added by Sharon L. on Friday, May 15, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Sharon, I live in Brookline, Massachusetts, one of most expensive towns in this country. Our superintendent makes nearly 100,000 less than yours.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, May 15, 2009 at 4:14 pm

UGH!! I have been writing my state legislators as well. My son is almost 5 and very severely autistic and still “waiting” for the medicaid waiver that can provide us with in home supports for him. Our school district, which is great for my typical kids, is downright awful for SN kids. Yet now the SpEd dept is getting a huge boost $1.5mil from the stimulus package that they will no doubt completely blow. I am so angry about this- give the money to programs that actually WORK. And I’m tired of everyone talking about all this money into research and early intervention. Who ARE these kids getting the early intervention? Not my kid. He goes to sped preschool which is little more than a holding pen (which I feel guilty about every day, b/c it’s a sensory nightmare). When he was under 3, he got an hour of SLP and an hour of OT- hardly intensive early intervention. So I’m honestly sick that it’s out there that kids with autism are getting early intervention- they are NOT, and if they are, it’s likely running the families into debt because they are paying out of pocket.
I’m astounded by the number of kids in my n’hood who have severe autism- like nonverbal, stimmy, anxious, screaming type autism- most are under age 7. I’m 30 and I never met anyone like this growing up. Trust me, I will not be counting on state or federal services for my kid- the sheer number will absolutely bankrupt any type of system.
These adults right now and in the future need their services, or it will cost us (in many ways, but I’m talking $$) in other areas. My nonverbal runner got out a couple weeks ago, second time we had to call the police, umpteenth time he has gotten out. All the police, investigation, and now CPS (great.) are costing the system in ways that I guess lawmakers don’t see.

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm