Kathryn Skelton’s story titled “Autism rising” was featured June 15.

Having a child with Fragile X syndrome and autism, I was impressed with the feature article.

I wish to thank the public for supporting services for children with disabilities.

The article did not mention the Department of Human Services’ proposed rule changes to the MaineCare Benefits Manual. Reimbursement rate changes are proposed for early intervention centers. The public has until June 23 to make comment.

Under the proposed change, intensive early intervention centers would be reimbursed at the same rate as less intensive developmental preschools. Intensive programs are vital for children diagnosed with autism and other severe developmental disorders.

Representatives from Spurwink, Sweetser, The Margret Murphy Center and two other agencies attended a DHS hearing on June 11. The services these programs provide would be cut between 25 and 49 percent, thereby eliminating some of them. The waiting list of children determined by the state who need these same services is long and IDEA mandates that services be provided.

Through IDEA, Part H, Congress identified an “urgent and substantial need” to enhance development of children with disabilities, from birth to age five, so the likelihood of institutionalization is minimized. Children with early intervention are requiring less, sometimes no services later on.

Services did not exist years ago. Now over 200 children attend expensive out-of-state institutions. Our lesson learned is that early intervention saves taxpayer money.

Cheryl Peterson, Turner

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