Friday, October 24, 2008

Sarah Palin's Speech on Special Needs Policy

No matter who you are going to vote for in November you must admit that times are changing for the special needs community. Awareness and Education are making a difference. I just watched Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, in a news conference saying how children with special needs would get more attention in their administration. She has and will in the future bring to light to the difficulties and triumphs of families who have a child with a disability. She has a child with Down's Syndrome and also a nephew with autism, so she is in the same boat with many of us.

I am so glad that someone is taking notice of how parents of children with a disability are striving to find appropriate care for their child, and mostly they do this all out of pocket because schools don't pay for everything. Jason and I have been fortunate to live in a school district that is very good at trying to fulfill our requests for Zion's education. But what about those parents who live in cities that have inadequate education, no special services, and no-one educated in the profound disabilities of those with autism. It was awesome to hear that with Palin as vice president, education funding would be portable for those who have special needs. Parents would be in charge of their child's education and have the ability to choose the school that is right for their child.

For example, there is a school that specifically treats children with autism in Springfield, that is too expensive for most families. Some profoundly autistic children need to attend this school, but the parents are unable to find funding. Palin says under their administration funding would follow the child to this school even though it is a private school. This is amazing!

Also, in her speech she said that the IDEA would be fully funded under Mccain/Palin. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.

With a fully funded IDEA children would be able to receive services earlier, which you all know is paramount for getting the upper hand with autism. Did you know there are studies coming out that can discern in infants some autism characteristics? Early intervention has been a specific key in how well Zion is doing today. Every parent needs to have infants screened and tested and also have those services provided to them, in order to decrease the most severe side effects of the disability.

Whole new goals open up for my son when people in the administration start putting our kids first instead of earmarks and special funding for crazy projects. It might mean the difference of Zion living in assisted care as an adult or Zion realizing his goal by going to college and becoming an astronaut!!!

Zion's quote: “Mama! First brush Zion's teeth, then fly on spaceship!”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Walk Now for Autism a Success!

I am so excited to tell you that the 2008 Walk Now for Autism was a success. Thanks to all the people that helped put it together and the ones who got out there and walked. The grand total for the event is over fifty-six thousand dollars. That is so cool. I think each year we will see a dramatic increase in the amount we raise. With that money, Autism Speaks is doing great things in furthering the advance in research and knowledge about autism.

On behalf of Zion's Tribe, I want to personally thank you for supporting our team: Whether it be giving money, buying a t-shirt, or sharing your friendship with us. I am happy to say we raised two thousand and fifteen dollars this year for Autism Speaks. I am so excited to know that our team made a difference. As I see Zion thinking and playing more like any other five year old boy, I hope that the money we raised goes to more awareness and goes to advance research into cures and causes. Zion is doing so well because he was diagnosed so early. This awareness will help other parents recognize the symptoms at a very young age and get intervention earlier. That is the key to getting the upper hand on this disorder.

Earlier this week, a neighbor who knows about our personal journey with autism and our involvement with Autism Speaks, stopped by the house. He wanted to know if he could share our contact information with some friends whose daughter has just been diagnosed (at age two). Of course we obliged and I was remained about the difference that Autism Speaks has made in the few short years since we were in that position of receiving what seemed like a hopeless diagnosis. From resources for families such as the "100 day kit" to internationally coordinated research efforts and awareness campaigns. Autism Speaks is making an impact at many levels.

We are so happy to see the dramatic changes that are taking place in our son. He is now fully communicating with us and we can understand most of what he says. His understanding of what we say to him is growing exponentially. He spends most of his day in a regular Kindergarten class doing the same things the other kids do. The Floor-time therapy that we were once striving to learn is now fully applied in our home, like it is second nature. We still sometimes go back to the complete basics of commands and hand over hand manipulation. But as the time goes on our little boy is coming out of his shell. He is a social being, wanting attention and affection more than any of my children. He is a sweetheart!

Anyway, thank you for all your support. We are already excited about next years Autism Walk and are planning some team fundraisers like a trial run or mountain bike race. Keep checking in with the website. God Bless.