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posted: 10/17/2013 5:00 AM

Autism programs need more attention

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As a father of a son with autism, every April I take part in Autism Awareness Month and encourage people to increase their understanding of what autism is, how it has increased in numbers and the children and adults who are affected. As a parent, you hear over and over again from state and federal legislators from both parties how they will make it a priority to protect the most vulnerable but then do very little to draft legislation and fund new programs to increase better outcomes for people on the autism spectrum in Northwest suburban communities.

Republicans in Illinois have complained about why families like mine have a hard time voting for their candidates, while at the same time classifying people as dependent on the government for free handouts and relying on them too much to take care of their children. The Democratic Party, even though they are much more sympathetic to developmentally disabled families, is not much better in helping the most vulnerable of populations, given the fact that Illinois is near the bottom in providing education and services for the developmentally disabled. Hardly a state where any family is enjoying a free lunch.

With election season coming up, I would like to provide a twist in promoting autism awareness to both parties. If a candidate for state or federal offices wants votes from families, spend two days in our shoes taking care of our kids, and then see if we don't work hard to take care of them. If special needs parents are proven right, then explain to our children who will take care of them and how when we are gone and they are on their own. I'll wait for the stampede of offers from both parties.

Mike Baker


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