October 27, 2008

Oklahoma… Is it Failing its Children with Autism?

My son is one of the fortunate ones.

The Oklahoma Health Authority (aka SoonerCare) covers his twice weekly speech and occupational therapy sessions.  Who knows, they may even cover a third speech session.  We’ll see because it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Like I said, he’s one of the fortunate ones. But things aren’t going so well for other Oklahoman children who are also on the spectrum.

The Developmental Disabilities Division of our state’s Department of Human Services is about to let a pilot program expire “sooner than expected” due to the lack of behavioral specialists.

What does this mean exactly?

The program had offered a budget of $12,360 to spend on services.  As for the 30 families who were selected to participate?  They will be left, once again, to fend for themselves.

Michael McNutt of The Oklahoman reports,

Oklahoma lacks enough therapists and behavioral specialists to take care of the state’s autistic children, according to the preliminary findings of a pilot program.

“What we discovered was there are so few providers of those services to these families that the spending on the behavior therapies was pretty small,” said Jim Nicholson, director of the developmental disabilities division of the state Department of Human Services. “There’s a lack of service providers that had that kind of specialty training.

It’s sad to think that there doesn’t seem to be enough incentive (please read as “Ka-ching!” or “mucho dinero” or “dolla’, dolla’ bills, y’all”, or “cheddar”) to get the “skilled” practitioners to care for our children.

I guess for some folks, time is money, and they apparently don’t want to “spend” any more of it on our kids.

Someone needs to explain this to parents like Deborah Decker who stated,

“It just opened up a lot of avenues that we wouldn’t have had otherwise because it’s just so expensive,” said Decker, who developed a plan for her 6-year-old autistic son. “It was nice just to have that money to really do some intensive treatment with him.”

Someone needs to explain this to her son and others like him who were relying on this program to do more than it did.

Someone needs to explain this to the children who will continue to “fall behind” due to the lack of state-provided services.

Someone needs to explains this…

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