Heidi and IzzyOregon AEI would like to share a story from an Oregon mom who recently traveled to Salem to meet with her legislator for the first time. Heidi is a self-described “non-political person,” but with recent proposed budget cuts hitting the news, she felt motivated and empowered to share her family’s experience with early intervention and special education with her state senator.

My name is Heidi Robinson, and my two children attend elementary school in Hillsboro. My daughter Izzy is seven, and was born with Kabuki Syndrome. She experiences intellectual and developmental disabilities as a result of this syndrome, as well as many medical issues.

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services in our state are not meeting recommended service levels. We moved here from Arizona in January of 2015. My daughter has been receiving either Early Intervention (EI) or ECSE services in Arizona since she was three months old. When she turned three, she began going to ECSE preschool for 12 hours a week. During those 12 hours, she would meet with physical, occupational, and speech therapists on a 1:1 basis for an hour each week.

When we moved to Oregon, however, she had five months left in ECSE before entering Kindergarten. In contrast to the robust services she received in Arizona, here she received only four hours a week of ECSE preschool; PT, OT, and ST services were given on an observation and consult method. This was discouraging and meager, particularly when compared to the amount of services we had been receiving.

To the other families of young children out there, I would encourage you to speak up and fight to protect the budgets for young and school age children so that EI/ECSE programs and schools they have the resources to create welcoming school communities that appreciate and embrace people with disabilities as valued members of their school communities.