Not that anyone else particularly cares if I weigh into this one, but… I suspect I’m not the only one who watched last night’s debate.
I’m going to – as I do with everything else about this election – keep to where it has relevance to this blog.
Someone, on one of my various Tweet feeds, made the great comment about how different debates would have been for years now, if only everyone had Twitter to actually be talking about it real-time as it was happening. Indeed, even I had my Twitter client open while the debate was going on, and I was keeping an eye on the constant back-and-forth between fellow parents of children with autism.
Obviously, the first thing that got everyone going was President Obama’s comment about Medicaid and helping parents with ‘autistic children’ keep up care. I suppose I was more amused at how many parents quibbled about the verbiage used, or were simply flushed with success that it was even mentioned in the debate. Personally, I couldn’t really care less how he referred to the issue, but I was left hoping that perhaps he was going to bring up more on the issue, as he did, after all, make three promises during the 2008 campaign, none of which have been fully realized (one of which has been fully broken).
Later in the speech, Governor Romney made reference to portability of education funds – specifically IDEA and Title I. (I love his quick gaffe about ‘poor’ and then swapping it for ‘low income’ on the fly. Maybe I don’t know, being “middle class”, but I don’t know that the different construction really changes what Title I signifies.) And like Obama’s comment, it was the only mention he made of a topic which covers autism (IEPs are governed under IDEA)… but this is ground, as I’ve mentioned previously, that he covered in a white paper earlier this year.
As far as I’m concerned, last night’s debate was nothing to crow about. Yes, obviously, there are bigger issues than Autism on their minds – the economy, taxes, Medicare and Social Security… but we’re also not a minute portion of the United States. The latest figure – 1 in 88 children – speaks for itself as to the major issue this is becoming.
I find interesting the bias in the community, though, based on my tweet feed.
Obviously, the obvious call-out was what drew so much attention, and my feeds were nearly unanimous in their comments about how the President ‘noticed’ autism and mentioned it. I noticed (especially when struck by insomnia last night) that Romney’s comment about IDEA portability got lost in the shuffle. Maybe that’s the difference between looking at the health-care side versus the education side… but.
Well, that’s a big but though.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it thousands of times more before I’m done. My wife and I are in an unusual boat, when it comes to the Monster and treatment. I have insurance – I have a very generous insurance package, in fact – from my employer, which in theory covers ABA. I make a sufficient amount of money that we undoubtedly qualify as “middle class”. So we’re not on Medicaid for the Monster’s issues… but on the flip side, there are no ABA providers in our state that clearly “in-network”. My insurance is based in California, as is my employer. Maryland doesn’t require ABA coverage. So my issues when it comes to medical coverage for autism are very different than a lot of others.
Because of this, and as has been apparent for the last few weeks, my major concern is the Monster’s schooling. To me, issues like IDEA portability are a bigger deal. I don’t know what’s offered in nearby districts, since those programs are only available to us if we move, and both the IEP and the IDEA funding is stuck with us in Baltimore City until that point. I would love the flexibility to shop around, to ask the nearby counties what they offer, even if it would mean my potentially having to drive the Monster to his school myself, and know that the money that is set aside for him would go to that school to help fund his education. (To be wholly fair – the public school he’s currently attending is in the process of getting certified as Title I as well. So that should give you an indication of what is influencing that feeling on my part.)
My real conclusion about the debate is summed up in my tweets back and forth with Warriors for Autism – we have a right to demand more on this issue from our public officials and from candidates. It’s great to ‘mention’ us in a debate. But a ‘mention’ is worth nothing without a concrete plan and the wherewithal to execute it. And we got nothing except mentions last night.
In terms of autism – both of these candidates were losers at this debate.