Monday, July 6, 2009

The Vote: All Politics is Local

As a person interested in national politics, I find myself very interested in national issues such as foreign policy and fiscal policy. However, as a member of the special needs community I'm only beginning to realize I need to shift some of my focus locally.

For the first time that I can recall, a law has been passed that directly addresses a specific problem that we've had and made it go away.

Problem -> Law Passed -> Problem goes away.

That simple.

The hardest part to getting Robbie certain therapies is the availability of time. Unsurprisingly, the after school hours are quite booked. Last year, when we asked Robbie's school if we could schedule some of his Occupational Therapy sessions during school time, we were denied. Apparently, it was against the law (which seemed absurd to me). After a long wait, we were finally able to get him into an Occupational Therapy session. Considering other therapies has been impossible to do given the lack of available time.

Less than three weeks ago, with the help of our State Senator, Florence Shapiro, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law (HB 192) changes regarding truancy in Texas as amended with the following (b-3 added):

(b) school district shall excuse a student from attending school for:

(1) the following purposes, including travel for those purposes:
(A) observing religious holy days; [or]
(B) attending a required court appearance;
(C) appearing at a governmental office to complete paperwork required in connection with the student ’s application for United States citizenship; or
(D) taking part in a United States naturalization oath ceremony; or

(2) a temporary absence resulting from health care professionals if that student commences classes or returns to school on the same day of the appointment.
-> (b-3) temporary absence for purposes of Subsection (b)(2) includes the temporary absence of a student diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder on the day of the student ’s appointment with health care practitioner, as described by Section 1355.015(b), Insurance Code, to receive a generally recognized service for persons with autism spectrum disorder, including applied behavioral analysis, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.


It was Senator Shapiro of Collin County who got this portion of the bill amended with this language just in time to be passed by the Texas Senate. That's pretty damn cool. Everyone, including parents, children and the schools themselves, will benefit from this law.

Thank you, Senator Shapiro. I think you've solidified my vote for a long, long time.

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