The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

November 24, 2012

State cuts hit close to home

Mothers of autistic youths worry about services

MIFFLINBURG — When Terri Manning and her family moved to Pennsylvania from Virginia, hopes were high that their 9-year-old son John would be able to benefit from the mental health services the state offered.

“Pennsylvania stood out as one of the states to pattern yourself after,” she said.

And with help from numerous programs and a therapeutic staff support (TSS) aide, John has thrived, said Manning, who now lives in Danville.

“At first, he had no eye contact and no facial expressions,” she said. “Now, he’s so loving, he has tons of faces. He doesn’t have a lot of vocal skills, but he’s learning how to communicate with sign language and pictures.”

However, Jacob’s therapy may be in danger, thanks to cuts to what services TSS workers can bill for.

New guidelines for billable services put out by the state’s Office of Mental Health state that TSS aides cannot bill for recreational activities or personal care services such as prompting an individual to complete a task or assisting an individual with a task. All things that Susan Bolig — whose 11-year-old son, Ryan, has autism — said are essential to the development of a child with an autism spectrum disorder.

“One of the biggest things our kids need is to learn is how to deal with the community and how to become a part of our community,” said Bolig, who lives in Selinsgrove. “Now they’re taking that away.”

Representatives from the state Department of Public Welfare could not be reached for comment.

But the moms aren’t letting the cuts go unnoticed. Manning, Bolig and fellow mother Brenda Laubach met with state Rep. Fred Keller, R-85 of Kreamer, on Saturday morning to discuss their concerns and see how they could fight to reverse the new guidelines.

Keller was very receptive, Laubach said.

The state representative said: “I wanted to sit down with and really understand how things were impacting them. We’ll get together once I do a little bit of work on that and meet again next week.”

One of the moms’ biggest concerns was potential cuts in billable hours for a summer camp held in Shamokin Dam each summer by Keystone Human Services, which allows autistic children to participate in recreational activities and therapies, while maintaining the routine of the school year, Laubach said.

“Honestly I have no idea what I’ll do if he can’t go to the summer camp,” she said. “He needs it because it keeps him active and on a schedule.”

Bolig’s son also has benefited immensely from the summertime program, she said.

“He loves to go swimming and go on the slides,” she said. “That teaches him to wait his turn, how to go down properly ... This year, he was answering a lot more questions, he was sitting at lunchtime and eating grapes and drinking milk.”

These small skills are all things that may come naturally to most people, but not to children with autism, Manning said.

“Our kids have to be taught how to do those things,” she said.

And it can take years of working with a child to reinforce these lessons, Bolig said.

“It can take years to learn something like how to dress themselves,” she said. “With my son, he picks out his own clothes, but I still have to go in and make sure things aren’t backwards or inside out ... It just takes a long process to teach them.”

Laubach works in the adult behavioral services field and has seen first-hand what early intervention can do.

“If they don’t get intervention they need now, in the long run, we’re going to end up spending a lot more money (on services),” she said.

And when these skills are taught at a young age and honed through the help of TSS aides, it can allow children to grow and mature into adults who are independent and can hold jobs in the community, Laubach said.

Manning agreed.

“We’re not just asking for things. Our children have a lot to offer,” she said. “Who knows what John can do, his story’s still unwritten.”

Email comments to awislock@dailyitem.com

1
Text Only
News
  • Donations to Budd family near $60,000

    SHAMOKIN DAM — The Valley continues to give as fundraisers keep forming and donations steadily pour in for the Budd family, of Ohio, while Sharon Budd continues her fight back from drastic injuries suffered when a rock thrown from an Interstate 80 overpass in Union County slammed through the windshield of the family’s vehicle three weeks ago.

    July 30, 2014

  • B-17 fly-over to honor 'Dutch' VanKirk

    NORTHUMBERLAND — A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress will soar in honor of the late Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk during his graveside services Tuesday morning.

    July 30, 2014

  • dogs31.jpg Is Spike spiteful?

    Dog is often considered man’s best friend, but a recent study shows he may be a little green over how much time you spend with other pooches.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORBETT_TomC.jpg Corbett: VanKirk helped to save the world

    Gov. Tom Corbett today issued the following statement on the death of Northumberland County native Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay:

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Afraid of grandson? "Now I am," Amanda Trometter says

    Erick Trometter slept with hunting and butcher knives beside his bed while living with the grandmother he allegedly attacked on the morning he was shot after allegedly pulling a knife on a city police officer.

    July 30, 2014

  • vk1.jpg Ted VanKirk: Seen from above

    The Daily Item is republishing online its spring 2012 interview with Northumberland native Ted “Dutch” VanKirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. The story appeared in Inside Pennsylvania magazine. VanKirk died Monday in Georgia at age 93.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • vankirk_ted1.jpg “The Japanese were beaten before we even dropped the bomb”

    Compared to the 58 other missions they ran together, the one they were assigned to carry out on Aug. 6, 1945 was easy.
    There would be no return fire, flying conditions were ideal, and if all went according to plan, they would be back to the base in Tinian by nightfall.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Selinsgrove man dies when tractor flips in Chapman Township

    PORT TREVORTON — A 57-year-old Selinsgrove man died Tuesday evening when the farm tractor he was driving overturned and pinned him beneath it, according to Snyder County Coroner Bruce Hummel.

    July 29, 2014

  • VanKirk 'Real hero' of World War II dies

    ATLANTA, Ga. — Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Monday of natural causes in the retirement home where he lived in Georgia. He was 93.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.