Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Time Out Please!

Let me say that most of you who care to read this know the super secret that yes, I am a Democrat, a big one. I pay attention to politics and yes, vote. I am one of those scary liberals that don't want prayers in school, want universal health care for all and am (gasp!) pro-choice. While my liberal leanings started early on being the parent of a handicapped child pushed me to be an advocate. Everything bit of help that I get for Mason I have fought for, and now I hear on the news telling me that we on the verge of socialism. So?

Let me tell you the truth about being the parent of a handicapped kid in Utah. When Mason was initially diagnosed with Autism in 1996 our insurance did not want to cover him. They even sent us a bill for the visit with the doctor for that initial diagnosis as autism was a "mental disorder" and that was not covered. Then we received a very nice letter saying that as long as Mason was not being seen for anything "autistic" we were fine. That meant, no speech therapy or occupational therapy. We changed insurances when Cole went to work at PO. Since it is a government entity it's insurance, while not great, did not consider Mason's autism as a "mental disorder".
We were able to get therapy through the school district. Utah has a very large number of autistic children, so there was even an autism preschool (Giant Steps), which do to funding, had a waiting list. We got on the list and year later, Mason was in Giant Steps. Those great teachers held Autism preschool in building on the campus of the American Fork Training School. I believe this building may have been in the process of being condemned, as it is torn down now. To say it was terrible is an understatement.
Mason has attended I think 9 schools over the years. As class sizes swell, rooms become scare and finding space is always difficult. He has had some great teachers and well, not so hot ones as well. Anyone who does this sort of work (for the crap they get paid) should be on the road to sainthood. People often say to me, "well doesn't the state help out?" or "doesn't he get special government stuff?". Here is the truth- sort of.
When Mason was 10 Cole and I were at the end. His behavior was so out of control we did not know what to do. He was jumping out of cars on the freeway, breaking his legs, 2nd degree burns on 50% of body, breaking his hand, stitches, poison, you name it. The state has a volunteer program called Friday's Kids that lets parents drop off their handicapped child on a Friday evening for up to 4 hours so the parents can get out. After Mason had run away from there for the 5th or 6th time (they found him a couple of miles away) one of the volunteers put us together with some people at the State. We had signed up for services but knew we would probably never get them as at the time there were 10,000 handicapped CHILDREN waiting for services (there are now over 12,000). Our new friend with the state put Mason's case up to the legislature as an example of what happens when we don't intervene early. Who knows what Mason could have accomplished if he had the help he needed when he was younger.
We finally got services after that. What are "services" you ask? That is an amount of money that the state gives mason each year (the feds match it 300%) that I can allocate for additional speech therapy, respite care etc. No I do not get any cash. It does not work that way. I direct all Mason's services to pay for Brian, Mason's advisor (we call him the nanny). Brian is hands down the best thing that has ever happened to us. I can not thank him enough for all he does for Mason.
So why am I telling you all this? I am so sick of all these people all over the news whining! Cole and I make a decent living so we pay more taxes then most everyone we know (we don't have tons of kids or have religious stuff to deduct) and guess what- I DON'T CARE! I know what I get for my taxes, and frankly it is a damn good deal. Even if I were not in our situation, I would not care. The other day people at work were whining that they had to pay more property taxes because of an increase from the school district. Then in the next breath said that they would not mind paying more taxes if the schools were better. Exactly how do schools that get more and more kids each year get any better with no more money? New teachers make what 28K a year? Boy I know I want to go to school for four years, have school loans, dedicate my life to kids and make crap.
Then there is the health care. I find it very interesting that a lot of people that I know who are sending out emails about the evils of universal health care have been in fact, been on Medicaid (Baby your Baby anyone?) . The screaming populace chanting "no socialist medicine", "we're not Canada" has taken open debates to mob levels. Have none of these people had hard times in their life? I would wager they have. They just have people whispering in their ear about that man in white house who wants late term abortions, socialist medicine, and gay marriage.
Not everyone agrees with everyone else, what fun would that be? My opinion is just that, mine. But I would ask the 8 or so people who actually read this to think, At some point in our lives things have been bad and may be bad in the future. What help would you need if you were suddenly jobless, with no health insurance. What if your child is born with a disability? Are you going to have to move to another state so you can get help for your child? I hope that you are never pressed with these difficult decisions. But as someone who has, I can tell you that I am very thankful of what I have, but still angry knowing that it was not enough and now there is nothing I can do about it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Family Reunion 2009, The Lake event

So rather include this in the family reunion post I decided to do a separate one. Well, the camp had a very nice little lake. We all were paddle boats or canoes. The teen boys Aaron, Gabe and Geraden were in their own canoe. Only bad things could happen from this, sure enough they started taking on some water, Gabe decided to jump out and the whole canoe flipped over. The water was cold and icky. I am sorry that some of the pictures are fuzzy but we were pretty far away when the incident happened. The boys were rescued (the canoe too!) and although wet and cold, made it back to shore with the help of the rescue boat. As G's mother I reserve the right to bring up this story and/or pictures at anytime to embarrass him publicly in front of friends or prospective girlfriends or just for my own amusement.
The boys before the dunk

After the dunk

The rescue boat

Ian and Meri checking out the damage

Seth and Nicole

Daddy and Mom

Nate and Asher

Joe and Emily with Cami and Julia in back

Kenny, Susan, Olivia and Micah

Kane and Lilybelle

Family Reunion 2009!

We had a great time at our Family Reunion. It was Becky's turn to host and she chose the Heber Valley Camp, which is a girls camp during the week run by the LDS church. They had yurts for us to sleep in, a great campfire spot and most importantly, flush potties. There were challenge courses with ziplines, a great little lake, and sand volleyball courts. We were very lucky this year to almost have everyone there, the only ones who were absent were Keith, Mason, Kelly, TJ and Josiah. Josiah was going to be there, but on the way he crashed his motorcycle. He is OK but got some serious road rash.

Geraden and Kane

Ashlee cutting Shannon's hair

Lydia, Olivia and Sam


Shannon on the zipline

Asher and Mary, no pictures please

Geraden, Aaron and Gabe

Mom, Jenni and Gabe

Mary and Asher

Anna, Kyla, Maddie and Duncan

Chip and Stephanie


Mom and Becky
Meri and Ian with Arik and Duncan

Cami and Joe