When our son, Brandon, was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. We made the decision when he was 6 years old that I would put my college career on hold for me to stay at home with him because of the many issues he faced and needed help with.
When Brandon was 10 years old, we were having issues with Brandon running away every chance he got. He would unlock any lock we put on our doors, open the door and run. If we went outside with him to play, he would attempt to climb the fence and run. At this time, feeling overwhelmed and living on one income, we asked for help.
Sunflower Diversified came into our lives, finding the funding to put up a proper fence so Brandon could play outside and we didn’t have to worry about him running away. They also provided the funding for us to put electronic locks on our doors, making it safer for him.
In 2008, my husband and I made the difficult decision to place Brandon in residential community services with Sunflower Diversified. He began having tonic-clonic (commonly known as grand mal) seizures at night, while he was sleeping. He makes little or no noise during the seizures and his breathing becomes difficult during them. It is impossible for us to stay up all night and monitor for seizures.
Thank God Brandon is now in a home with staff that are able to do this. Since moving into residential services, Brandon has blossomed and is enjoying his adult life, being able to work at Sunflower’s recycling plant and be a contributing member of society. He also goes to many activities in the community with his staff. Without funding, none of this would be possible for him.
Last year, the state of Kansas made drastic cuts to the funding for community service providers such as Sunflower. They are talking of making more cuts, including cutting ten percent of the Medicaid that people in these services need. In addition, they are talking of closing Kansas Neurological Institute.
Where do legislators think the people in that hospital are going to go? To the community service providers that are already hard hit? To be put on a waiting list for these services that is already five years long because there isn’t enough funds?
If more cuts are made, some agencies may be forced to close. Where do those clients go?
This is unacceptable, and needs to be rectified. Cuts made last year need to be restored and no further cuts made.
Raise the pay of community service staff to match the pay that staff makes at state hospitals. This way, providers can keep quality staff that have experience and won’t have such a large turnover.
I am asking anyone reading this letter to please email, write or call their representative. Help make a difference in the lives for people with disabilities!