Thank You California
by Shannon Aronin on December 5th, 2017

​Dear Governor Brown and the California State Legislature,

Thank you. Three years ago my family moved from Texas to Los Angeles. The aid the state has provided my special needs child has been priceless and is making a huge difference in his life.

Because of sensible tax policies the state is able to provide a series of supports. Who knows what the impact of the current administration on our great state will be yet, but for now, thank you. I hope you can maintain these important programs.

My son receives the MediCAL waiver through the East Los Angeles Regional Center. This pays for his evidence-based autism treatment —Applied Behavior Analysis — up to 15 hours per week in our home. We started working with them in February 2017, and SEEK Education in San Gabriel, CA has been an absolute godsend. My child complies with basic directions now! He eats neatly. His ability to assess a situation is better. He does significant chores. He’s learned new coping strategies. He’s more open to compromise. He can get ready in the morning in a reasonable time! He tries to yell and interrupt less. His fine and gross motor skills have improved moderately. They are working on his memory. He learned to like reading again. This is ALL a direct result of ABA program and we’ve only had them since February.

The Regional Center pays for his social skills group and respite care. My dearest public servants, how can I ever thank you enough for 16 hours per month of respite care? My family is truly middle class and babysitters are not really in our budget. We don’t live near any extended family and it’s a lot to ask of a friend. But the chance to recharge for families with children with any disabilities is so important. Caregiver burnout is real, no matter how much we love our children. My son also receives private traditional therapy that we pay for out of pocket, which we can afford to do because of all the other support. MediCAL also covers his psychiatric care and medications.

The Temple City Unified School District recently funded a much needed non public school for kids with emotional disturbance for two and a half years. Because of his time there he is ready for a less restrictive environment. We were convinced of this when he participated in the heavily subsidized and fully integrated Temple City Parks & Rec summer camp. Hillsides, the non public school he attended, did a great job and he had a place to improve.

Now he is ready for bigger and better things that will address his gifted academic needs on a public school campus. Exactly as special ed is supposed to work, he will now have integrated lunch, recess, gym, and special activities. He has the opportunity to earn his way into mainstream classes. There are ten kids in his class, one teacher, and three aides. This special program for high functioning kids is a program of the West San Gabriel Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) and includes students who need these services from fourteen districts.

It breaks my heart to know my friends in Texas and elsewhere can’t get the help they need. I’m grateful to live in a state willing to invest in my child. THIS is what government is good for. THIS is why taxes are worth it. THIS is why public servants across government, nonprofits, and education matter. Thank you for everything you do in the service of the disability community.

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