Autistic Child Advocates Association
Autism Legislation Update
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Dear President Bush:
I am the father of an 18 year old daughter with Autism and Epilepsy. I just read Governor Branstad's (chair of Commission on Special Education) statement about spending money on Special Education students at the expense of Regular Education students. I think the Governor needs to visit some classrooms and avoid making blanket statements that are unsupported.
Many years ago we use to just take our disabled students and leave them home or institutionalize them. Society was afraid to look at them and afraid to deal with them. It is now 2001 and the governor's statements sound fearfully like those of the past. How do we decide who is worthy of an education and who is not? Do we cut education off to those who only have an IQ of 80, 70, 60 or 50? Who is to say a child with an IQ of 50 with intense therapy and specialized education cannot become a productive member of society? Studies show $1 dollar spent early on a special needs child, can save $7 dollars when the child becomes an adult.
I think the Governor needs to be aware of the strides made by children and adults with disabilities. I understand the concerns of increasing costs in education and not getting a return for your money, but to put that on the backs of the least fortunate in our society is a crime. The disability community is one of the largest minorities in this country and it continues to the most discriminated against. Governor Branstad could not make the statement he made if he were talking about African Americans or any other minority group. So why is it okay to say it about the disabled? True, there are many people with disabilities who cannot vote, but their families do.
A personal friend of mine was told "put your child in an institution and have more children" when his son was 3 years old. Today he is 33 years old and holds a job with the Florida Diagnostic Learning Resource System (FDLRS). His IQ was below 50 when he was 3 years old.
In closing, I hope you look carefully at who is representing you on this commission. There are over 60 million people with disabilities in this country and I can assure you that education is one of the most important things to our families who have children with disabilities. The laws (94-152, 504, ADA, IDEA) were created to protect our rights and we will fight to keep them in place and make sure our children become productive members of society.
The Autism Society of Florida
State Advisory Committee on
Exceptional Student Education (Florida)