I am writing as someone who worked 16 years in the developmentally disabled population, and as a mother of three children with various special needs.
My four-year-old son, Grayson, has received Early Intervention (EI) services in Oregon since he was 2 years old. He has sensory processing disorder and is a proprioceptive seeker, so he is constantly seeking strong physical input that was preventing him from reaching milestones, especially speech and communication ones. He required vigilant monitoring as his needs would cause him to engage in dangerous activities such as bolting away from us, banging his face and head forcefully, and climbing tall things and jumping off in order to get the input his brain needed. He qualified for services, but we only got one hour with a special education teacher per week. Our special education teacher, Nickea Tye, is simply a God send but Grayson needed additional Occupational Therapy (OT) services.
Due to the way EI is paid for and structured here in Oregon we had to pay for weekly outpatient private OT to address his needs. Many families do not have the resources to do this sort of thing for their children and I find it a huge disadvantage for the children in our state.
My daughter received EI for a few months here when she was first born (ages 3 – 6 months) before we moved to New York. In New York she received in-home weekly (at times twice weekly) physical therapy, speech therapy (starting at age 11 months), as well as quarterly OT consults through EI. She has a genetic condition that caused her gross motor and speech delays. I recognize that my children’s conditions are different, but it seems a huge disparity in services provided to families in Oregon.
I beg you to provide proper funding for the children who are in the most need in our state.
Kimberley Smith Daly, MA, LPC