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
  • Accident victims remain in critical condition this morning

    DANVILLE - Victims from serious traffic accidents the past two days remain in critical condition this morning at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

    April 18, 2014

  • Porn prank riles Bucknell University president

    LEWISBURG — A fake email that contained a link to a pornographic website was sent to Bucknell students, faculty and staff on Tuesday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • 28-mile cross walk steps off in Northumberland

    SUNBURY — Two “cross walks” this morning, including a 28-mile trek from Northumberland to Beaver Springs, are among the highlights of Easter activities and services in the Valley.

    April 18, 2014

  • rsstrike18a.jpg Picketing begins at four Danville schools

    DANVILLE — It started like any other school day during the year, with teachers up early and arriving at school at 7:30 in the morning.

     

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Line Mountain board, teachers to talk Tuesday

    MANDATA — Line Mountain school board President Troy Laudenslager is far more optimistic this week than he has been as the board and the Line Mountain Education Association head into their first contract negotiation session in three months.

    April 18, 2014

  • Good Morning Central Susquehanna Valley

    Today is Good Friday, April 18, the 108th day of 2014. There are 257 days left in the year. On April 18, 1934, the first laundromat (called a “Washateria”) was opened by John F. Cantrell in Fort Worth, Texas; four electric washing machines were rented to members of the public on an hourly basis.

    April 18, 2014

  • Injured bicyclist can't believe car didn't stop

    SUNBURY — Brandon Reigle has one question for the driver and passengers who left him in the middle of the road after hitting the bicyclist with a car Wednesday: Why?

    April 17, 2014

  • Petitions target 'toxic few' on Midd-West board

    MIDDLEBURG — More than 400 names have been gathered on two petitions to remove a pair of Midd-West school directors after some members of the public claimed the district has been in disarray for quite some time.

    April 17, 2014

  • crash18.jpg Snyder County collision injures driver, kills two horses

    PORT TREVORTON — A car struck two horses on a rural road in Snyder County Thursday afternoon, injuring the driver and resulting in the death of the horses.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Strike17.jpg Danville teachers hit picket lines

    DANVILLE - It started like any other school day during the year, with teachers up early and arriving at school at 7:30 in the morning.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee
Poll

How do you eat your chocolate Easter bunny?

Feet first
Tail first
Ears first
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley

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.