Alright – so, Holland autism center is owned by an autism mom. Let’s start there, at least with the good. My son used to go to Holland years ago. This mom started the center because of her son. She rented a building that used to be a police station, hired a BCBA from Florida and started with her son and few others. We were one of those original few. As I have gotten to know her (Jennifer), I really liked her vision. She took her kid to an ABA center and did not like what she saw and how they were teaching her kid and treating him. So, she did the logical and humane thing to do – instead of asking someone else to give you a fish, learn how to fish so that your child has abundance fish forever. All good, right? I say yes.
As a result, I have gotten to know her more and more, we would go to have coffee, or just chat. She got to know other Somali autism parents, we would have lunch and hear her background. It is actually one to admire. She became successful from other businesses (computers) she owned. She got to know Somali autism families who believe vaccines caused autism and even invited Dr. Wakefield to Minnesota. Things were all good and dandy, until Rep. Kim Norton (dfl from Rochester) introduced a bill that stated the state of Minn should cover ABA therapy for children with autism who had private insurance. Boy oh boy, where to even start with that blatant racism. Taking public funds to help the wealthy while denying the same ABA therapy to low income autism families. What now?
Jennifer and others mostly white autism families sided with Rep. Norton. They testified for her bill, came in drones for it, packed committee rooms, and were relentless. In other words, Jennifer from Holland center was against what later became EIDBI, that is low income autism families getting ABA therapy. This is where she and I had to part ways. I remember she sent me an email once that said, if we stopped our advocacy, she will help our community. I told her no way.
So then why is Jennifer and Holland center exploiting mostly minority (Somali) EIDBI providers? Ain’t that a good question? They are charging them more than the reimbursement rate; they are – according to some providers making unreasonable demands, bullying them, and abusing them. They are also colluding with DHS staff by telling some of the EIDBI providers that they are backed by DHS EIDBI staff. What now? What the heck?
I guess as Michael Douglas said in his Wall Street movies – greed is good. Except, this is not wall street or a movie. It is about our children, families and community. It is about racism at its core. It is about taking advantage of the poor and low income. It is about the oppressor oppressing the already oppressed communities.
So, what is DHS – you know that state Medicaid agency doing about this? nada. Why? because no one holds them accountable. Why is Holland’s owner who at the very least should understand autism families’ pain taking advantage of minority autism families and EIDBI providers? Your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea. I expected a lot more from an autism mom even if she is rich and white.
Shame on you Holland and Jennifer. Imagine if someone did this to you. You need to stop taking advantage and expoiting minority EIDBI providers.
The above words do not reflect any candidate, agency, committee.
Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Retired Advocate