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The Words Millions Of Families Have Waited To Hear

Unless you are the parents of special needs children you might have missed this section of Gov Sarah Palin's speech Wednesday.

Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge. And children with special needs inspire a special love.

To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters.

I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House.

Both my wife and I cried; cried years of frustration at dealing with public institutions, schools, and everything else. Unless you're there or know families who are, you don't know the economic and emotional toll inflicted on families. Parents of special needs children will tell you that the love and joys they experience are perhaps even greater than others could know, but it's certainly not an easy road to travel.

So hearing those words brought years of emotion to the surface.

Now we need our new advocate to deliver more specifics than they've previously announced. Gov. Palin and Cindy McCain (who has worked extensively with autistic children) need to help the McCain campaign provide even more specifics. As the parent of three autistic children I want McCain to put something like a federal version of South Carolina's Ryan's Law into their health care proposals. Certainly there are other opportunities and research worthy of their support. The thing is that they have a historic opportunity to engage a constituency that crosses party lines in search of the best possible support for their children's needs.

As a Republican I support John McCain and Sarah Palin, but as a parent of special needs children I'll cast my ballot for whichever candidate offers the best proposals to support our children's and families needs. The McCain/Palin ticket is ahead on that scorecard tonight for families with special needs children, but it's not a done deal. Sen. Obama could move more toward Hillary Clinton's more complete agenda.

Right now John McCain and Sarah Palin need to deliver on her promise of advocacy this evening.


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Comments (32)

Few people understand what ... (Below threshold)
BlueNight:

Few people understand what I go through, as a person with Asperger Syndrome. Fewer understand what it meant for my parents, since I was misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD, medicated with Ritalin, and put into what we all now clearly see was the wrong track in school.

I expect that, if I have children someday, they will have autism spectrum disorders.

Gee I wish I could say I'd ... (Below threshold)
ThomasJackson Author Profile Page:

Gee I wish I could say I'd vote for whoever promises me a free vacation to Cancun every year and a Mercedes in my drive way.

I don't think that's what the founding fathers wanted for this country. Neither do I.

"TJ," you're no Thomas Jeff... (Below threshold)
marc:

"TJ," you're no Thomas Jefferson.

Fact is, you're a penis with feet.

Kevin,I do not have ... (Below threshold)
Candy:

Kevin,
I do not have kids with special needs, but know many families who do. I cried as well. I would be shocked if McCain & Palin don't come through on that promise. She is in the early stages of being a mom to a special needs kid, but I suspect she's done her homework and at least has an idea as to what you have all been going through.

My suspicion is that as soon as the public found out about Trig being Down Syndrome, they probably began approaching or contacting her about what they are going through.

I am pumped about this team.

These lines struck a tone i... (Below threshold)

These lines struck a tone in my home, too.

Here's to the next President and his Madam VP.

Gee, TJ, I guess you won't ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Gee, TJ, I guess you won't be voting Democrat then.

Please help me understand w... (Below threshold)
Cowtipper:

Please help me understand why my tax dollars should be taken from me and used on special needs programs. What is to stop every special group thinking they need gov't handouts? I am not being heartless, I really want to know why the gov't should be involved with this.

"What is to stop every s... (Below threshold)

"What is to stop every special group thinking they need gov't handouts?"

Cowtipper, I wouldn't count your comment as heartless because I think you may be reading too much into what she said. There are a ton of special groups already doing that. Some I feel are legitimate and deserving of help, even with my tax dollars. But if you'd read again what Palin said, it wasn't a clear endorsement to just hand out money, but an endorsement to "make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters."

Now that can be construed as saying, "We're gonna give you money," but it could also be construed as an advocacy to promote awareness and accommodation. Even to promote more research for prevention and to promote groups, especially private groups, already doing these things. Surely that will take money. But this is one of those causes I'm all behind.

cowtipperIt isn't ... (Below threshold)
Larry:

cowtipper

It isn't government programs that we want, it is attitude. And a President of the US is well placed to set tone and sometimes substance. I too have a special needs kid. He is a Hirschsprung's child. He had half his colon removed when he was two weeks old then another three inches when he was six months. He has problems controlling his stool. And he just started school.

I live in small town America. And the local school district could not have been more supportive, at least I don't see any way they could have been. An nothing they did came from any government program, it came from the heart. Contrary to what many of those with Liberal bent believe, not everything comes from the Government, except, sometimes, attitude.

In my family's case, the IEP program has influenced a generation of school admins and teachers to look out for special needs children, even if it isn't about money spent. My kid just needs a bit of help with stooling and he gets it.

Larry, you said it better t... (Below threshold)

Larry, you said it better than I. Kudos.

It was an amazing speech...... (Below threshold)
awtm:

It was an amazing speech...

Our family who is affected by probable PPD

love that the new administration is educated and will push

I'm a leader in our local B... (Below threshold)
Kerry:

I'm a leader in our local Boy Scouts troop, where we have boys with autism, cerebral palsy (my own son), and various disorders or conditions. Some stutter, others have tics, one of our boy leaders (working on his Eagle) has problems with his feet.

We don't baby or coddle any of them, but we do occasionally point out that everyone has something. Some people have visible conditions, others have conditions which aren't so visible, which is even more difficult.

And we use these times to teach them empathy, and they get it. We went to Philmont this past summer, and I could not be prouder of a group of boys, and how they supported one another.

My point is, it's not about money as about equal opportunity and working together. My son climbed the top of the Tooth of Time. Yes, I helped him, but when I wanted to stop out of concern for him, he was having none of that. And I'll bet most special-needs people are the same way.

I, too, loved it when Sarah Palin made her comments. God bless her and her family.

I would like to see through... (Below threshold)
maggie:

I would like to see through grass roots efforts
education on these matters, breaking it down
to communities. Having the nerve center in
D.C. is not the answer in order to reach every
one. And this does affect us all.

In the midst of an absoluet... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

In the midst of an absoluetly awesome speech, that section was a standout. As a parent of one child on the autism spectrum and another child who is a type 1 juvenile diabetic -- and who deals continuously with school and medical bureacracies -- I loved hearing this.

Cowtipper - your question is a just one. I don't think she was advocating a new giveaway, but rather an attitude change.

She can talk the talk, but ... (Below threshold)
Rance:

She can talk the talk, but her budget cuts indicate that she doesn't always walk the walk.

You can find the numbers for the Special Education Service Agency (SESA) budget on the Alaska state web site.

What I find interesting is ... (Below threshold)

What I find interesting is that we have a few people here now who have divulged that they have special needs children and who, to my recollection, have never whined here that the government hasn't done enough for them. Even now, they show no indication that they're waiting for a handout, but they are pleased that they have an advocate who is in agreement with them on more than just this one issue. They've been saying they're in agreement with Palin on a variety of issues and this is an extra added bonus.

My children only had a couple minor health issues I was able to control with diet. I've been very lucky. But we had an uncle (Joe, God rest his sweet soul) who had Down's and I can attest to how his life enriched us all. He needed special care but it was never seen as a burden to anyone in the family. It was a labor of love. All we ever asked of anyone else was understanding and patience.

Our county subsidized a "school" for folks like Joe, where they could spend just a few hours each day interacting with others and be made to feel like they meant something, that they had value. It was one of the things Joe so looked forward to each week. These were mostly people helping other people and that the county saw value in the program and helped out is fine with me.

My son has high-functioning... (Below threshold)
Jason Author Profile Page:

My son has high-functioning autism and Gov. Palin's words moved me very deeply. Parents of special needs kids and even adults with special needs are so very often overlooked, especially in our "abort them now, ask questions later" society. It will be wonderful having such a high-profile advocate for them.

Uhm, I'm probably going to ... (Below threshold)
Clay:

Uhm, I'm probably going to end up castigated here, but I think I'm getting what TJ is saying, although I probably would say it differently. My question is, what are you expecting from an advocate in the White House? If your expectation is help in the form of a tax relief, I'm with you. But, if your expectation is more government in private lives and special programs in the public sector, you lose me.

Ooops. Just read Larry's co... (Below threshold)
Clay:

Ooops. Just read Larry's comment. Never mind. I get it.

let us not forget that Mrs.... (Below threshold)
aw:

let us not forget that Mrs. McCain also has her Masters of Arts in Special Education!

RAnce: YOu DO know that a ... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

RAnce: YOu DO know that a smaller increase is not the same as a cut, right?

Please help me understan... (Below threshold)

Please help me understand why my tax dollars should be taken from me and used on special needs programs. What is to stop every special group thinking they need gov't handouts? I am not being heartless, I really want to know why the gov't should be involved with this.

I for one would love to see this particular attitude towards special needs individuals abandoned. It's not about money. It is first and foremost about recognising that individuals with special needs are worth something. They are worth the time and effort (and money when necessary) it takes to make a place for them in society along side the rest of us "normal" folk. It's about recognising that they are worth the investments to see them reach their fullest potential. It's about recognising that they have the potential to do great things for themselves and for the rest of us. It's about recognising that they have a place in society and a valuable role to play. If it takes some tax dollars to make that happen then so be it. I can think of worse things to spend our tax dollars on than say training teachers in strategies for teaching special needs individuals or providing enough staff to schools to make sure that every kid gets the most out of their time there or job training for adults with special needs.

It would be nice not to be treated as wannbe free loaders in addition to all of the other challenges that we have to over come. I've got two autistic kids who happily went off to school today to work with staff who are committed to cramming as much knowledge into them as their little heads will hold.

Ryan,From the stat... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Ryan,

From the state web site, a series of documents titled:
State of Alaska FY200x Governor's Operating Budget, Department of Education and Early Development, Special Schools, Component Budget Summary

Bottom line:
$7.9 million in 2006 - before Palin
$3.2 million in 2007
$3.1 million in 2008
$3.1 million in 2009

Rance, you've cited another... (Below threshold)
Kevin Author Profile Page:

Rance, you've cited another DailyKos fiction that's been debunked...

And the web site with the d... (Below threshold)
Rance Frayger:

And the web site with the documents is a fake built by Kos and his friends?

Looking at the budget numbe... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Looking at the budget numbers on the Alaska OMB site, it appears that I have been duped by a person I used to trust.

I withdraw all previous statements on this topic.

You can go back to what you were doing.

Rance F,Look <a href... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Rance F,
Look here
Now look here

What you and the Koskidz are missing is that the budget was broken into different categories.

Alaska Challenge Youth Academy Program was moved into another category. Rather, in 2007 this program had 5.5 million, 2008 5.7, 2009 6.1. That is in increase.
In fact, the current budget has special needs funding going from $26,900 per head to $73,800 by 2011.
That is also an increase.

Perhaps you could benefit from some special needs education programs. Remedial reading comprehension and logic come to mind. Not that adult cranial rectal placement disorder is a recognized syndrome in any school system I know.

Sorry Rance, I was called a... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Sorry Rance, I was called away before hitting send, and did not refresh before clicking to see what had happened in the hour I was occupied. My apologies for missing your admission.
As you can see, education issues and any misrepresentation thereof can really get my Irish up.

"As you can see, education ... (Below threshold)
Rance:

"As you can see, education issues and any misrepresentation thereof can really get my Irish up."

As they do mine.

I'd love to see a change in... (Below threshold)

I'd love to see a change in attitude about people with any disability. I have a disabled son, physically, mentally (average IQ, but with processing deficits in communication) and now, spiritually, because of the attitude of some (not all) he's come in contact with.

So, though I think my experience over the past 26 years with his accidental head injury has been very different from dealing with autism, downs syndrome, and other diseases, dealing with bureaucracy of all types has been a nightmare.

The only thing that got me this far with a remnant of sanity is discovering that I will always have to be my son's (and my own) advocate first.

I don't think Sarah Palin is going to change that, but it might the responses I get come faster and be more palatable. I certainly hope so.

First I want to thank you a... (Below threshold)
Cowtipper:

First I want to thank you all for your replies to my questions. I have a better understanding of where you are coming from. I did want to reply to Samantha. My aunt raised 12 adopted children with Down Syndrome. All went on to be productive adults who are able to live out on their own. All the while she also became the oldest woman to graduate from University of North Carolina with a Masters in Teaching. I only say all this because she was able to do it on the salary of her husband who was an mechanic without Gov't help.

There was help from us her family and from private groups. She was an example that the Gov't does not have to be involved. She never looked for others to be acceptant of these wonderful kids, but instead taught them their value despite what society may think.

I don't know, it is a tough issue. My heart and prayers go out to you all.

Acceptance can mean the dif... (Below threshold)

Acceptance can mean the difference between life and death for individuals with disabilities. Those are the stakes.




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