Arkansas votes to decrease therapy for special needs children. Let me tell you why not.
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So, Arkansas is voting to reduce the amount of therapies for children with special needs? This is absolutely outrageous and disheartening for a so many reasons.
When Aidan was first diagnosed with Mosaic Down syndrome at six month of age I was not a nurse - I was a very worried parent who did lots of research attempting to find out what to do to give my child the best chance possible in life. During this research I became upset knowing that he had missed the first part of his life for the opportunity to receive physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Early intervention through these therapies is key in helping kids with special needs in their development.
First of all, as parents of a special needs child I feel we have done everything thus far we can to help Aidan reach his maximum potential. Since the age of 18 months we have sent Aidan to an amazing school in Little Rock called Access, that provides him with the help and therapy he needs to assist in development. While you would think that a child diagnosed with Down syndrome would have plenty of opportunity for therapy funding, this is not true. Primary insurance does not pay for therapy services, which means that in addition to a primary insurance we must pay out of pocket for a type of Arkansas Medicaid insurance called TEFRA that does cover therapy services. The combination of both the private special needs school and TEFRA insurance is not an insignificant cost, in fact, I feel terrible for those individuals that have kids with special needs who do not have the luxury to afford a wonderful school like Access.
To qualify for therapy services each child must be evaluated biannually to determine (per Medicaid standards) wether or not they "qualify" for these services. Just last year Aidan did not qualify for any physical therapy, even though he continuously scores extremely low on these evaluations. The "qualifications" remain so high, that even if a child is considered on a less than "profoundly delayed" level, therapy services may be reduced or denied.
To give you an idea of how instrumental therapy has been for Aidan - I can tell a drastic difference just talking to Aidan in his goals, objectives, and therapy styles from the speech therapist he had a few months ago verses the one he currently has. I could also tell a significant difference in when Aidan received one hour of physical therapy a week verses none.
If a child must be profoundly delayed to receive therapy services, how much more can you raise the bar to disqualify children for these necessary services?
I cannot imagine why, of all things, Arkansas would choose to cut funding for this incredibly important service, especially when most individuals who are trying to give their children the best chance possible and already have unimaginable struggles ahead of them.
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