Pending Special Needs Bill

Paige Hardy, Paige Hardy, and Paige Hardy

Parents push Massachusetts legislators to pass bill that would help their disabled children transition from public schools to community service programs. The bill would give $23.4 million to the Department of Developmental Services for those too old to qualify for special education services that are offered by the Elementary and High School services. Currently, developmentally disabled people lose their eligibility for services when they turn 22 or graduate high school.

Recently, the number of new students requesting adult services after 22 reached 700. Not long ago it was 450 students. The funding from the new bill would provide a 31% increase, even though there was a 40% increase for those who need the increase. Right now those under twenty two get help finding and keeping jobs.

If the new bill passes three million dollars will help those people over 22 find and keep jobs. The authors of the bill are representatives Tom Sannicandro and James O’Day, who have children with special needs. Other parents also want another bill that would require developmental services to use the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities definition of intellectual disability, instead of the current 70 I Q test result. This means that those people who above 70 on the IQ test will not qualify for services. The AAIDD definition is less strict and is already done in other states.