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As the father of a child with autism, I strongly oppose Montana’s recent proposal to eliminate Part C Early Intervention and Family Education and Support services as part of statewide budget cuts.

My daughter was nearly non-verbal when we began Early Intervention for her at age 2, and was diagnosed on the spectrum just before age 3. Family Education and Support helped my family through the stressful time of my daughter’s autism diagnosis. We had no previous experience when it came to autism, and thanks to this service through the Child Development Center (CDC), we made it through that tremendously difficult and confusing time.

I must stress how critical the CDC was for us and is for numerous families. My daughter is now 8 years old, fully verbal, and dreams of becoming a teacher! Thanks to these essential services, this dream is possible (and knowing my daughter’s determination and heart, it is extremely likely).

Should Early Intervention be eliminated, Montana would be the only state in the country to not provide this critical service. Please don’t abandon these kids and their families. These services provide education, support and, most importantly, hope for the future. And these kids are our future.

Ryan Clevidence,

Lolo

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