The Austin Chronicle

Outdated Mindset

RECEIVED Wed., Aug. 27, 2014

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to respond to the Chronicle's August 15 article regarding the Sunset Commission's recommended closures of six state supported living centers (SSLC's) [“Sun to Set on Severely Disabled Patients,” News]. Sadly, The Austin Chronicle's article shows only one viewpoint and promotes a mindset dating back to the Fifties that people with disabilities belong in institutions, such as the Austin State Supported Living Center. The article criticizes the commission for recommending closure of six SSLCs. The article does not report that advocates have been fighting for years in support of closing the SSLCs and providing long-term services to people with disabilities in their homes with their families. These same advocates support the Sunset Commission's recommendations.
    I am the parent of an 18-year-old young man who has significant physical and intellectual disabilities. He lives with his father and I in our home in South Austin. He doesn't “suffer” from his disabilities (a generalization made by the author about people with disabilities in the article). My son and I are active disability advocates, well connected to other families raising a person with a disability, and familiar with the many opinions people have of the SSLCs. I was disappointed that the Chronicle presented only one perspective – a very negative perspective – of SSLC closures and the Sunset recommendations. At least Dennis Borel, a longtime, dedicated disability advocate in Austin, was allotted a paragraph in the article, providing a glimpse to your readers of why community services are so important to Texans with disabilities. I only hoped that you had also interviewed some families and other organizations that think closing the SSLCs is a good idea.
Denise Sonleitner

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