Why Does Autism Health Disparity Exist in Minnesota – in 2 words; Elected Officials.

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Today in Commerce Committee in Minnesota Senate, Autism coverage for private insurance only – SF314 was heard. This is the same over the top expensive, not based on any research or science for unlimited hours of ABA for all ages – forever bill.

But, I would like to concentrate this blog on the disparity part between middle/upper income autism family vs the low income/minority autism family.

Sen Eaton is the author and in general has a welcoming demeanor, but a hot shot lobbyist who represents ALL white and non-minority ABA providers spoke mostly and as expected exaggerated everything from saying it will cost 30 cents per kid (what now) to this bill is based on research from NIH and NIMH. (really now what now – not true)

OK, as the only one who is a member in the Federal Autism Advisory Committee chaired by NIMH director that is sooooo false and not fact at all by any stretch. But, none of the committee members really cared all that much to ask good questions or double check his over the top claims. 

Then there were some anecdotal testimonies and of course logic and reason tell us research should drive policy, not anecdotal because you can find someone that says lion therapy works for autism. I would even buy that.

Then, I spoke and as usual the only minority and Black person there and as usual the Chair substitute Sen. Jensen cut me off after speaking two minutes, plus her body language was saying – I don’t care and hurry up. As a result, not my best testimony. I should have ignored her and continued to say what I intended.

OK, regarding health inequality and health disparity – I finally figured out why Minnesota is one of the healthiest states, yet has one of the worst health disparities in the country for minorities. The elected officials that minorities vote for who are mostly DFL preach lots of sugar coded words, give us hugs, have latte with us and even if you read some of their background, it can seem as inclusive as Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela.

But, when it comes to putting their votes to match their words – that is a whole another story. It really does not match and they know it. I think they hope that either low income or minority voters don’t find out which we usually don’t. In other words, if these elected officials knew that their votes were being watched, I am certain they would be aware and cognitive of it. Thus, health disparity would decrease.

So, what happens now. Well – as minorities in Minnesota, we can keep having these endless naps or wake the heck up and assure the people we voted for regardless of their party are actually voting to support our issues and concerns. We must be diligent and never sleep with both eyes while Minnesota session is going which is from Jan to May.

In addition, we are going to start going on Somali radio and Somali TV and maybe other minority media outlets to talk about politicians, their policies and how they affect us.

We need to learn the connection and never vote blindfolded. Another reason is while most mainstream autism families get educated by public funds through MDH, DHS or MDE through mainstream advocacy agencies that teach them how to talk to an elected official and how to tell their child’s story, most minority autism families have no idea because there are almost no minority agencies funded to do the same-thing in way that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.

And, guess who sets these state agency funding policies – that is right the state leader/commissioner hired by – wait for it….an elected official that WE elected.

Now, you make the connection, or I hope you do.
Thanks for reading this post!
Idil – Somali Autism Mom – determined to fight autism disparity from every corner and every alley.

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