It's been just shy of a month since the sequester began. In that time, Congress has failed to reach an agreement that will prevent these devastating budget cuts from taking effect. Rather than using the time before the sequester and since to come together and have a "we shall overcome" moment, our congresspersons have continued to finger-point, blame, and focus on issues that the American citizenry cannot get behind.
The impact of the sequester cuts is very personal for my family. I have a child with Down syndrome, and the services he receives in public school and through other state-funded organizations assist him with development, as well as education. My heart shudders at the thought of what happens when millions of children can't receive the speech, behavioral, occupational, and adaptive therapies they need for their individual and unique developmental process. As a mother of child with special needs, I've seen firsthand the benefits of working with an expert -- something that is challenging for typical children can be nearly impossible for children on a developmental spectrum. With the tools taught to me by a behavioral specialist, my son was potty-trained in one year. By the time he was four years old, there were nearly no accidents. For some this may seem like nothing, but when you've been in a room of seven- and eight-year-olds who are still soiling their pants, you know the value and gift of services that help you and your child move through such issues successfully.
I am deeply frustrated, if not downright angry, that those who have been sent to Washington D.C. for the purpose of serving the well-being of Americans are failing at their jobs. With our elected officials so unwilling to look after the citizenry, I'm led to ask that the American public begin to consider the power of its voice and how it supports those who have no voices. Our children are here and we, all of us, are assigned as their caregivers. If we are not able to do the simplest things to protect them and teach them, by providing education that will assist them in living productive, worthy lives, then we are no better than the chickens we've elected to Congress. If we cannot stop the squabbling long enough to stand for our children -- what are we good for?
With disabilities education slated to endure $591 million in cuts under the terms of the sequester, I'm just hoping families like mine will make their voices heard. I hope we can reach our family members, our coworkers, neighbors, and our church and community members with the value of what these services mean to our children. Let's begin inviting people into homes so they can see what our lives our like and the work we are doing to enhance our children's growth. Let's begin using our voices to share our stories of challenge and victory. Let's encourage everyone we meet to see how politics plays a very real role in our daily lives, who they vote for to represent them in Congress really matters. We must change Washington before Washington becomes the death of us all.