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posted: 9/24/2012 5:00 AM

Communication is key for special needs residents

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After meeting with the director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities of the Illinois Department of Human Services about special needs issues, an important topic was brought up. There is not very good communication or working relationships between state agencies, parents, elementary school, junior high, high school and community college programs, about the amount of special needs kids coming up through the system.

There also is not accurate data of the number of people with disabilities on the state's waiting list, known as the PUNS list, (Priority of Urgent Need of Services).

Many families in need of state services do not enroll children and adults with disabilities because of severe frustration with current and past legislators in Springfield who have been cutting human services budgets for years.

No new and comprehensive ideas or prioritization to improve education and services have come out of the Northwest suburbs for years. If there is a legislator who is leading a prioritization to improve services for people with autism and other special needs, families are certainly not seeing it and Illinois would not be ranked between 47-50th in the entire nation.

The population is ever increasing, will get older and regardless of who is in charge in Springfield, will need state services. State human service agencies, school districts and community colleges need much better communication with parents on the number of special needs children and young adults in the system, their individual needs and how to best prepare them for independence and to gain employment.

Legislators in the area have never bothered to try, and as a parent of a teenager with autism, I will.

Mike Baker

Schaumburg Autism Society

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