A little over a week ago, I testified alongside 30+ other parents and healthcare professionals against funding cuts and qualifying disability rating increases (from 25% developmental delay to 33%) for Early Intervention services here in a Colorado.
Had the proposed qualifying percentage been 33% 3-5 years ago, both of my children wouldn’t have qualified for services, and consequently would have been without treatment for the first 3 years of their lives; as both children fell in the 25-32% developmental delay range (when they were first evaluated).
For those that are new to our journey, that would mean that my diagnosed severe, nonverbal, autistic son, Apollo, wouldn’t have qualified for Early Intervention services under the proposed changes, period; Apollo just wouldn’t be “delayed” enough to receive services.
Even with 30+ people opposing the changes – the changes were approved. The board of directors seemed convinced that preventing approximately 2,200+ children from entering EI, in the next year, would be ok, because “most” children have private insurance.
What they were told, but failed to hear, was that most private insurance companies do NOT cover habilitative care – or as I understand – services that help an individual (disabled/delayed) learn, retain, or improve skills/functioning for daily living. Our own insurance doesn’t cover any of Apollo & Athena’s therapies or supports, and without a state waiver or Early Intervention, we couldn’t afford the hefty therapy costs 💯 out of pocket.
It’s a very sad reality…
Up until last week I felt blessed to be part of such a fantastic EI structure, and now with a snap of a finger Colorado stands to turn their back on some of the the most vulnerable children to fend for themselves.
I think back to where we were, now 5 years ago, when we first started EI services with Apollo. It brings me to tears when I think about how much progress Apollo’s made since then, and how much better of a parent I am because of our EI teams support, coaching and guidance. Under the new guidelines, our family would have been SOL (excuse my bluntness), and Apollo would likely still be near hospitalization due to his inability to self-regulate and entirely non-verbal.
These changes are not ok, and not in the best interests of our children. But, that is the problem with giving board members authority to make life changing decisions without having complete understanding of the issues at hand – or a vested interest in the cause.
I can do hard things!
I must admit, being before a committee was super hard for me – on a personal level. Those that know what our family went through in ND, with unsupportive, toxic people, can imagine how difficult a trigger like this would be for me to overcome.
Although difficult, my testimony reminded me that I still have a voice for my children, that my voice matters and most importantly – I can do hard things! ❤️
What happens next?
We aren’t giving up! This is just the beginning. Our children deserve better, and we will keep fighting the uphill battle, and advocating for the best interests of our children.
The EI providers that initiated the pushback, created a GoFundMe account for individuals to donate to the hiring of a lobbiest to help with our cause. No pressure, but those that wish to donate can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/colorado-ei-advocacy-lobbyist
*Not an ad, just believe in the cause*
How many of you have been positively impacted by Early Intervention services? Sound off in the comments below. I would love to hear from you! 🙌🏼