For those of you that don’t know me, I am Sarah Bourne. I run a website called Blue Mom Red State. My mission with the site is to encourage Utah communities to lean left by sharing experiences on my own life. By illustrating how politics touches my life I hope to inspire more people to vote.
I haven’t always been a political person. My political awakening began almost 3 years ago. I was a stay-at-home mom to two little boys. I was struggling to adjust to my role as an in-home parent. Being outside the workforce made me feel irrelevant, disconnected from society. I could feel my relationship with my husband growing distant due to the fact that our lives were so different. I needed to do something about this.
I decided that I was going to start following the news. I didn’t have lofty goals or some grand plan about it. I just wanted to have a conversation with my husband that wasn’t about how many diapers I had changed that day. One of the outcomes I didn’t anticipate was how good it felt. I love learning new things and I found that I felt passionate about many issues. I was beginning to feel better about things.
Then, my oldest son was diagnosed with autism. The recommended treatment was ABA therapy. This behavioral therapy consists of 30 hours a week of intensive, hands-on therapy that costs anywhere from 60k to 100k a year. The treatment would last from 3-10 years depending on Oliver’s progress.
My family was derailed and I struggled with the transition. How were we going to pay for this? How were we going to make this work? As time has gone on it has become clear to me how critical this therapy is for him. They taught him his name, how to talk, how to wait, how to be in a store, how to get dressed, how to watch for cars, everything. When it was time for him to go to school I was so excited because he had made so much progress. I was sure it was going to go well. The reality was the school has a hard time supporting him.
He doesn’t understand basic social cues. He doesn’t understand sitting in a circle to listen to the teacher read a book. He doesn’t understand that the show-and-tell toys aren’t for him to play with. All these things that neurotypical kids can be easily taught don’t connect for him. I can see everyday the genuine effort of the teachers to provide the free and appropriate education that my son has a right to, but they just don’t have the resources.
Oliver isn’t the only one either. The special needs class across the hall is severely understaffed and in over their heads. I recently approached a woman running for office in my area about the issue and she brushed me aside. I’m frustrated and sad. What am I going to do about this?
His diagnosis caused me to go through long periods of self reflection. It caused me to think long and hard about what kind of life I want my kids to have and what I was going to do to make it happen. I wrote a lot. I wrote about the hardships I was going through. I wrote about the many incidents that happened with my friends, family members and people in public that made me feel like a bad parent. I came to realize that we live in a society that has rigid expectations about what a good kid looks like, what they are supposed to act like.
I’ve struggled to adjust to my new life as a special needs parent. I want more understanding from people, more support, more empathy. I feel isolated, alone, like an outsider. I’ve immersed myself in the issues surrounding my situation. I’m constantly trying to learn more about the healthcare system, public education and other social issues. I have spent much of my time learning more about how the government works and those who serve within it.
I have come to realize that many of policies in place don’t serve my family as I believe they truly should. ‘Why is this?’ I wonder. The answer is that our government’s decisions are not being guided by the universal values that we all share. Integrity, compassion and empathy, tolerance and inclusivity, being team oriented and standing for justice, not just for the people that fit the mold. It is our responsibility as citizens of this state to elect people that reflect those values.
I believe that Deana Froerer embodies these values. She believes that we are in this together. So, spread the word and get people registered to vote. Continue to support her campaign anyway that you can. I believe that she will bring positive change to Utah which is exactly what we need. Thanks again for your time and your donations. Keep up the hard work and let’s do this!