State Cuts Could Affect Autism Program

Springfield - During his budget address, Governor Rauner promised hard choices and difficult cuts ahead for the state.

When lawmakers return to the Capitol in two weeks, they'll have to hash out a budget for next year by the end of May.

It will likely be a budget full of cuts to almost all state programs.

Included in those cuts, will be the Autistic Program of Illinois, also known as TAP.

"We are currently zeroed out of the budget.  We understand that there needs to be cuts made across the board, but we're advocating to not be totally zeroed out," Springfield's center director Leigh Grannan told WAND News on Thursday.

Grannan added that such steep cuts could be devastating to autistic children and their families.

"That would limit us and our ability to serve probably 75% of the clientele that we see currently.  There would be hundreds of families that couldn't access resources to how to work with their child," said Grannan.

One of those families effected would be Shannon Laney, and her son Cole.

"He's had a lot of difficulties with speech mostly.  He wasn't very great at socializing with peers or playing the way other 5 year-olds play.  It would be devastating for my family.  It doesn't just help Cole.  It helps me to learn how to deal with Cole too.  They have resources here," said Laney.

In his short time with TAP, Cole has made improvements according to his mother, and it was the state's TAP program that drew shannon and her son to Illinois.

"He's communicating much better and we can understand what he's saying.  His vocabulary has grown immensely.  We've lived in Virginia and North Carolina, and he's been diagnosed since he was 2 years-old with autism, and I have never found a program like this.  It was part of the reason why I moved to Illinois," added Laney.

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