Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Freedom of Speech

Before the real post, the promised ER story. On Monday night, we'd just finished dinner and baths, and I was getting Sierra dressed while Jaymes dried off with his towel. He came out and borrowed my iced tea, which I let him do because I didn't think OMG glass will KILL him, obviously not expecting him to drop it. Anyway, as luck would have it, he did drop it and somehow sliced the heck out of his little thigh. The wound is shallow, but about 2 inches wide and 2 inces tall. It's huge, and it was hideous and horrible and we are both traumatized by the ordeal! I heard him scream and turned around to see him wiping blood all over himself, so I tried to catch him (unsuccessfully) for a few minutes. He kept covering the cut with his hands and freaking out and nto letting me near him. finally got him pinned down and wiped the blood off to see what we were dealing with. As I was doing this, Jason came home from work, saw blood, and panicked. In between screaming in horror/going pale/running around uselessly, he told Jaymes (in a panic stricken voice that really only scared Jaymes further) that it was ok and not to worry. Long story short, I stopped the bleeding and took him to the ER, not knowing if it was bad enough for stitches. At first they didn't think it was, but in the end it took 11 stitches and 2 docs sewing at the same time. They gave him some meds to calm him, which really didn't do a lot, and I think the pain meds hurt more going in than anything else, he screamed horribly and it was so sad. Poor Jaymes. The cut looks much better sewn up, and it's draining well. I think he'll be just fine, but what a thing to go through for him.

That finished, on to my main post today. Apparently the great state of North Carolina has put Speech Therapy services for Medicaid kids (i.e. my kid) on the budget chopping block. I'm not sure if it's for sure going to happen or what, but I do know that a lot of parents and especially speech therapists are very upset by it. And why not?

Private insurance hardly covers speech, and not a whole lot of us can pay out of pocket for a weekly (or more!) appointment. A HUGE portion of patients where we go to therapy are Medicaid patients. If Medicaid stops paying for speech, what happens to these therapists' jobs? What good does throwing MORE jobs out in this terrible economy accomplish? Especially when these people are performing a NEEDED service. A service that literally gives thousands of kids a voice.

Jaymes was one of the lucky kids- he was diagnosed early, and he has had Speech, OT, PT for the last 4 years of his life. Right now (at school) he is testing at a 1-2 year old's level as far as speech skills go. I do not think he would have ANY speech at all if not for those 4 years of therapy. Jaymes is living proof of why Speech is so so important for kids with Autism (not to mention the many kids with other issues who need these services!). To take away his ability to recieve Speech therapy is to take away his voice. To take away his means to communicate his wants and needs and feelings. To take away his freedom, in a way. In the USA, this should not be legal. This shouldn't happen. It shouldn't even be a thought in any politician's head.

Why take away from kids, particularly kids with disabilities, who come from lower income households? Why not take from other projects that don't affect people's lives to the extent this does? Maybe a few roads can wait a couple years to be repaved. Roads will wait. Kids with Autism, not so much.

I don't know what we'll do if this happens. I don't know what Speech costs per session, but chances are it's quite a bit and we're barely making it right now as it is. But how could we let Jaymes go without? He only has the language he has because of the therapies. Of all the therapies they could have picked, why speech? In my mind, Speech is the most important of all of Jaymes therapies. I can deal with sensory issues or not being able to use the scissors, or having bad balance and not being able to kick a ball. Those things are great to have, but you can go without them. You can't go without a voice.

Anyway, even if you're not in NC, even if you don't have kids with Autism, please write a letter or make a call on behalf of Jaymes and kids like him who desperately need their Speech therapy services. Post here if you sent a letter, and I'll think of some cool way to reward you guys for it. Enough people complaining might be able to change things around, who knows. Below are the folks to contact to tell them that our kids NEED their therapies. Be heard.

Contact info for the Chairs of the Full House Appropriations Committee:

Rep. Mickey Michaux - Durham County - 919.715.2528

Rep. Alma Adams - Guilford County - 919.733.5902

Rep. Martha Alexander - Mecklenburg County - 919.733.5807

Rep. Jim Crawford - Granville - 919-733-5824

Rep. Phillip Haire - Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties - 919.715.3005

Rep. Maggie Jeffus - Guilford - 919.733.5191

Rep. Joe Tolson - Edgecombe, Wilson Counties - 919.715.3024

Rep. Douglas Young - Hoke, Robeson, Scotland Counties - 919.733.5821

Governor's phone number is 919- 733-4240

Forsyth County Representatives:

Senate Members:


dressage_x said...

Amber, I hope Jaymes is doing alright. Give him a hug for me! :) (I think you need one too!)

By the way, I put a little tidbit about you guys in my most recent blog post. I hope you don't mind, and I included a link to you guys. Take a look and let me know if you want it taken off or anything.

Sabre said...

I sent my letters last week. I can't imagine what my son would be like right now if he didn't have speech therapy.

Jasmine said...

Glad to hear Jaymes is doing better and healing. That's horrible about the speech thing. I know speech therapy really helped my sister.