"They're not looking for a handout. They're not looking for a freebee. They're really looking for a helping hand. They have ambition. They're bright people. And by the stroke of chance, they ended up with a need." -- Ed Marchetti
In the last few months, I have traveled to the capitol, sent numerous e-mails to the governor, and placed countless calls to legislators. Why? My family has a need. More specifically, my youngest daughter has special needs -- a gross motor and fine motor delay.
She needs therapy. And Early Intervention (EI) has been instrumental in ensuring that her needs are met. Unfortunately, Governor Rauner is wanting to deny many children these important services.
I try to keep up-to-date with the Early Intervention cuts that Rauner is proposing. I scour the web, skim through the paper, and occasionally check his Facebook page.
When I first read about his EI cuts, I remember thinking, "How can anyone justify taking funding away from children with special needs?! More so, why would anyone support a man who wants to do such a thing?!"
But then I started reading the Facebook comments on Rauner's page. And I realized two things: people are mean -- really, really mean -- and people are misinformed about the services provided by EI and about the people who utilize these services.
So, this is my response to the top "Rauner Facebook Comment Myths" I have read in the last few months:
Myth 1: "You are all a bunch of takers, and you want a handout. I shouldn't have to pay so you get things for free. I'm sick of paying for you people. You are just unhappy that the Gravy Train is gone." Or other less friendly variations.
My Response: Yeah...no. Not everyone who receives services from the state is a "taker" nor are they getting a "handout." This comment seems like a HUGE generalization to me. The term "handout" implies that I am receiving something for free. I am not. In reality, Early Intervention works with my insurance for the services that are provided to my child, and I also pay a monthly fee based on my household income.
Is my monthly EI payment less than I would pay out of pocket after insurance? Yes. Without a doubt. Would I be able to pay for all of my daughter's therapies out of pocket? Maybe. Hopefully.
But if I couldn't afford for her to get help, she is going to cost taxpayers much more when she enters public school. Her delays will be greater, and she will be in need of more services because she didn't receive the help she needed as a toddler.
In fact, research argues that my daughter will be more likely to close developmental gaps because of EI and will be less likely to need special education services when she is school aged because of EI. According to the Illinois Physical Therapy Association (IPTA), For every $1 dollar spent in early intervention services, $7 are saved in special education costs. More so, EI services are 2 1/2 times less costly than special education services.
As for that Gravy Train, I have never ridden on it, but if anyone has FREE passes, let me know :) Wink, Wink. Seriously, I would TOTALLY pay for a ride on the Gravy Train.
Myth 2: "Stop complaining and get...an education, a college degree, a job, etc."
My Response: Education...check. College degree...check. J-O-B...check. My school completion, my college degree, and my ability to maintain a full time job does not mean I am less likely to end up with a need, although I wish it did. Despite what we all want to believe, there are no guarantees in this life.
So, now that we have covered that, let's move on to my complaining. Sometimes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I don't like the word "complaining." I don't complain. But I will speak out against something I do not agree with. I will write about it. I will fight for what I believe in. For those who just don't "get it," go to the end of Act 1 of Les Mis -- General Lamarque ( a sympathizer to the lower class) has died, and the people are revolting. Crank up your volume, and rock out to "The People's Song," and tell me you don't "get it" now.
Side note -- maybe comparing this to the legacy of the French Revolution is slightly over-dramatic, but if the "The People's Song" can be used to oppose a McDonald's opening in Australia, than I feel it is fitting here. And besides, some things -- like dictatorships, royal/political incompetence, and denying children with special needs services -- are worth speaking out about or "complaining" about or singing about.
Myth 3: "Shouldn't you be able to just do whatever the PT, OT, etc. does at home yourself? Why should we have to pay for something you should be able to do?"
My Response: Should I? No. Can you? Probably not. While I did graduate college (see above), I did not study the human body. That's right. I am readily admitting that I have little to no working knowledge in the areas of: kinesiology, cellular histology, biomechanics, and physiology -- just to name a few. While I wish I was able to help my child without any assistance, along with saving the world, unfortunately, I am unable to do so.
Luckily, because of EI, I am able to receive help from the most qualified people -- our EI providers. And the great thing about Early Intervention is that each of my child's providers teach me different strategies, games, and techniques that I can use at home to help her. And the best part is that her PT and OT are always one text message or phone call away if I have a question or concern.
Resources: Come on over to my house if you have any doubts, and I will gladly share my 475394530 texts messages back and forth full of ideas for me to try.
Myth 4: "You shouldn't have had a child if you can't afford him/her."
My Response: Wouldn't it be great if the world worked that way? If we only got what we could handle? Unfortunately, sometimes life tests our faith, it tries our strength and it gives us more than we are prepared to deal with.
Wouldn't it be even greater if we lived in a world where people willingly helped one another? Where there was no need to question or belittle those who are in need of help the most? Where a "helping hand" wasn't such a foreign concept?
Resources: Your heart is a good place to start...