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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Action: Filed a committee report documenting the needs of mental health programs on the county level

Submitted by: Representative Garnet Coleman

House District 147

"Perske Pencil Portraits 1971-1990"

"I filed a committee report that documented the needs of mental health programs on the county level throughout the state of Texas as well as the importance of supporting these programs that provide such a necessary service to some of our most cherished citizens."


L. Phillips Thune said...

Honorable Representative Coleman:
I have appreciated your efforts over the years on behalf of all members of the Texas community. I've worked in the area of helping families with children with special health care needs for many years. Although I live in Williamson County, I am encouraged to see that you have provided a report on mental health needs in our state.
My husband and I have five daughters; it has been a long road since one developed insulin-dependent diabetes at age two (26 years ago). Then, only five years ago, our oldest daughter developed Multiple Sclerosis at age 25. Tiera and Halla are the youngest sisters and are doing very well. Tiera has just graduated from UNT and would love to put her Sociology degree to work for the community good--like working for FEMA!
But I want to speak to you of Annie, our third daughter. She lost her hearing at age one. We, through the grace of private insurance that we followed here to Texas from our home in Colorado over 20 years ago, provided speech therapy, learned sign languages(ASL & SEE), provided hearing aids, a cochlear implant (one of the first done in Austin when she was 8). We were able to learn a sound representation system called Cued Speech, and last year, Annie, age 24, was ordering her own "carmel macchiato with an extra shot of vanilla upside down!" She'd ridden on a helicopter with the "Challenge Air" program, gone to signed performances, when we could find them, of CATS, and Phantom of the Opera, and her favorite, the opera Madama Butterfly--which she enjoyed just like everyone else because of the use of supertitles above the stage. Annie killed herself the day after Easter on April 5, 2010. My heart was shattered. Her father found her body--something no father should ever have to do.
Perhaps I will have a chance to share with you the many reasons for her heartbreak-- like being a vulnerable target for predators, wanting to be like everyone else, wanting to hear, have wonderful husbands and homes like her sisters. Maybe I can tell you how hard it was for me to encourage her to use Relay and make her own calls for appointments, etc, only to have people hang up because it sounded like a marketing call when the Relay Operator tried to start the call. Or how she couldn't find a doctor taking SSI Medicaid much less get to stay with the doctors she'd had since she was two. Somehow I can try to tell you how much guilt I feel that I gave her all that I could but I could not find a way to heal her mind to make the right kind of friends (and they were so few anyway) or to not see life as all or nothing. Mostly, I'd like to share a video of the family that loved her as much as we could, of our pain at saying goodbye to a beautiful, loving, and deeply missed part of our family.
I never imagined the depth of this loss; although I tried many times when worrying about the long-term effects of Type I diabetes or MS or of a young girl who had tried to kill herself before. Yet the doctor asked the same ten questions in the same ten minutes about having friends, ability to sleep and eat, and dispensing the same medicine she had since earlier attempts. I don't blame the doctor, I don't blame God, I don't blame Annie. I only pray for a system that can embrace hope and empathy for a mother's loss. I pray for the rising death rate of suicide for 16-24 year olds to begin falling because maybe, maybe someone is finally listening to their voices.
Thank you for the opportunity to write on this forum. I gladly offer my help to you in any way I can. With all my heart, thank you for your work.
Mrs. Linda Phillips Thune
Austin, Texas

Anonymous said...

Thank you for supporting and advocating on behalf of all Texans who have a disability. You are respected by all, no matter where they choose to receive services, State Supported Living Centers and community supports.