Parents Protest State Plan to Cut Funding of Disability Therapy for Infants, Toddlers

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Carr Daily Herald Staff Writer

Like most expectant fathers, Kenneth Slaw was dizzy with anticipation over the birth of his new son.

The Buffalo Grove resident stood by his wife during nine months of pregnancy and 17 hours of labor. He held his breath until he heard his son Andrew's first cry and he beamed with pride when he held what he described as "the most beautiful baby the world had ever seen."

But that was where his typical experience ended.

Shortly after Andrew was born, his pediatrician told his parents the boy appeared "floppy" and had no desire to suckle during breast feeding. He appeared to have developmental challenges and would need early intervention services.

Those services, including physical, speech and occupational therapy, would not be available to Andrew under a new funding plan being proposed by the state of Illinois.

Parents like Slaw joined medical professionals at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge Friday morning to express their outrage over a state plan that would cut by 75 percent eligibility to intervention services for infants and toddlers. Identical forums were held at four children's hospitals in Chicago and Rockford.

"If we believe in doing whatever we can to stop a family from being blown apart by the needs of a child, the governor's and the state's actions simply do not make sense," said Slaw, who believes early intervention dramatically improved his 4-year-old son's condition.

Though Andrew still shows signs of his illness, Slaw said his son has enrolled in a park district pre-school program and interacts well with his classmates. …