please, be nice

Special ed has many forms. While most of us in the public school system start with our kiddos in kindergarten, Zoe is already receiving services under education law.

That’s because special ed law guarantees services from birth to age 21 for children who qualify.

North Carolina’s early intervention program – CDSA – is administered by Department of Health and Human Services, not the school system. Once a child hits age 3, services transition from early intervention to the local school system’s preschool program for children with disabilities.

Zoe’s services aren’t covered 100% by CDSA, though.

First, our insurance plan covers the first 30 therapy visits a year, which is the typical cap. Since Zoe has physical therapy and occupational therapy each week, that means we hit that cap at the end of March. After that, a percentage of her therapy costs are paid by early intervention, and a percentage is paid by us. Honestly, I don’t quite remember what portion is ours and what portion is theirs. It’s a sliding scale based on our income, determining how much of Zoe’s therapy costs are subsidized. I think we’ll pay about $150-200 a month, but I’m not sure about that.

(Can you tell that Lee is the bill-paying member of our marriage? Yep. Not me.) 

Why share this? First, I think it’s an important piece of knowledge to have for folks considering special needs adoption.

Second, though, I’m sharing this because we’ve had friends – even close friends – lambast anyone who receives income-based government services in Facebook posts, blogs, tweets, and so on.

Technically, early intervention is one of those programs.

Please, hold your tongue or think before you post your rant (or re-post someone else’s).

 When you state unequivocally that anyone receiving government services is not pulling their weight, it hurts.

When you think you’re talking about some nameless, faceless stranger, you’re not.

When you complain about having to pay for someone else’s services, it feels like you’re complaining about my daughter. It’s hard for me to be your friend when I feel like you’re saying that it would have been better for Zoe to remain in her country, where she - as an orphan - would have been transferred to an institution for her care. I know that sounds harsh, but we wouldn’t be able to be her parents and afford for her therapy needs without the portion subsidized by the government. Our budget is stretched enough with the additional $150-200 we’re now paying each month.

It’s popular in some of my circles of friends to judge the woman with food stamps who has her nails done and her iPhone out… without knowing if her iPhone was a gift, if her nails were done for free by a friend, or if she’s spent hours that day searching for a job and is beaten down by all the rejections, much less the condescending stares from the person behind her in line who will post about her on Facebook like he knows her full story. I’ve known pastors who were given a fancy car as a present and then embarrassed to drive it, lest people think the church is paying him way too much if he can afford that. And blogs and opinion pieces occasionally tackle the topic of how much of a financial drain people with disabilities are on the rest of us.

Enough already.


Let’s go ahead and debate policies and discuss budget proposals and consider cost-cutting measures. Seriously. I don’t mind one bit if you disagree with me about education funding or any other topic, as long as we can talk without insulting anyone in the process.

Let’s stop pretending we know someone else’s story. Let’s stop attacking people. Let’s stop applying broad labels to diverse groups. Let’s stop shouting at each other online, as if it’s okay to forget manners when we’re communicating through the computer.

Please. Use your brain and your mouth to discuss issues… but use your heart too, so that you can express your views without being a jerk about it. 

P.S. – All the pictures in this post are of today’s therapy session with Zoe, in which she did some pretty spectacular commando crawling with only a little bit of help. Thanks for the tiny fraction of a penny from your taxes that helped make that happen. (Truly, I’m not being sarcastic; we are grateful. We love living in a country that offers services so that people with disabilities, people like Zoe, aren’t just hidden away in an institution like she might have been in her birth country.)