Warning, this is going to be a vent. I am unsettled tonight, heart sore and saddened by what I have read and heard today. If you do not want to read this vent, please exit out of the blog, but I am truly interested on what you think about all of this. I feel very sad that no one has thought to leave a comment about what is happening in AZ, to me it means that folks simply do not care what is happening, and that makes me sad.
Meghan, Kara, Amanda, our youngest son Brian and I attended the DES, DDD, AZEIP rally. We got there a bit late, nothing unusual for us I am sad to say, as we drove up to the rally we were happy to see folks standing on the roadside with posters and nearly every motorist who drove by honked their support.
We signed a few petitions while we stood outside the lecture hall and we waited to see if there were any Senators or members of Congress there to address our concerns to, we did not see any, they could have come and gone before we got there, but I doubt it. There was a representative from the Governors office. I did not see this individual, but heard she was there.
There were quite a few early intervention therapists in attendance. Many have lost their entire client load; meaning they no longer have any income. We saw many families with their children; dozens of babies and toddlers in strollers, some children in wheelchairs, many children with Down syndrome as well. We saw a few people we knew from The Down Syndrome Connection. We saw Mandy, Amanda's OT. If you wonder if my girls lost their therapy, the answer is no, other than music therapy, no, not yet, they did not get state funded therapy. Our medical insurance pays for some of the girls’ therapy, 20 sessions a year and I wonder if they will be forced to take up the slack now that AZEIP is defunct. We were not at the rally because we lost something; we were there because so many others did.
The media may have been there and gone, I did not see their vans or any reporters. I did see two disinterested camera operators sitting on the wall outside of the meeting hall. Neither seemed to notice the people around them, it made me sad to think that the media did not feel it was newsworthy that thousands of families lost essential services and so many people lost their jobs. One camera operator was trying very hard not to make eye contact with anyone. He had an air of impatience while madly chewing on a coffee stirrer, eyes on his tripod. The other stared blankly into space, neither of them responded to questions directed at them, it was odd.
I am very concerned that this is the beginning of a very bad trend in our state. I worry that most people will shrug this crisis off, who besides the families affected by the budget cuts truly care? Since some of the people the hardest hit were welfare recipients, other people view them as deadbeats living off taxpayer money; so many people applaud the cuts to them. I heard some radio hosts say that foster parents do it for the money anyway, so who cares if they take a 20% cut in monthly allowance for the children they parent. Why should anyone care about children with disabilities; they cost the state of AZ too much money and aren’t their parents the whiniest of all, always asking for more services; those over-emotional people who feel guilty about having a disabled child, so they over-compensate by asking for more than their kids need...
Arizona a right to life state, it is inevitable that more children will be born with disabilities, but while they have the right to live, so many people believe that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for their care after they are born, why should they pay for THOSE children and adults?
I hope my blog readers and friends know this is not what I think or feel, but what I hear and read in newspapers and hear on conservative talk radio. The detestable statements above come from them not me. My children are all just children to me, I love them all dearly, all eight of them. Three also happen to have Down syndrome. When we are shopping or at doctor appointments with our three youngest, people tend to see their Down syndrome and I honestly do not think many people think child or little girl when they see Meghan, Kara, and Amanda. So many say, "They ARE Downs, aren't they?" I believe we are seeing just how much value the state government puts on children and adults with disabilities through the budget cuts.
Let’s not forget that senior citizens are also affected by these cuts. Group homes housing adults with disabilities and the elderly are being closed all over Arizona because they have also lost their funding. Where will all of these people go? What does that say about who we are as a state? Does it make you feel proud that we attack the most vulnerable citizens when times get rough?