In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Some states do a reasonably good job with education and social services, but Texas has not been one of them. A 2016 Houston Chronicle investigation revealed that tens of thousands of disabled students were refused access to services because of a de-facto enrollment cap.
Forty-six percent of Texas children ages 9 months to 35 months received a developmental screening, according to 2018-2019 data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all children should have a developmental screening and formal test even if there are no concerns.
While pediatricians are able to help families with concerns on child development, continuous health care can be a challenge for some families. Dr. Christina Robinson, medical director at the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s pediatric mobile clinic, has noticed patients facing multiple barriers to care.
“We have noticed that there is usually not just one barrier, but layers of barriers our families are struggling with,” Robinson said. “When one barrier may not exist one time, the next time you see them another barrier might be there when the other one hasn’t resolved.”
The state’s Early Childhood Intervention program underwent a federal investigation that concluded in 2020. The US Department of Education determined that not all of the young children eligible for the agency’s programs were provided services, according to an Oct. 2020 letter sent to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Texans Care for Children, a policy organization, stated in a 2020 report that the state program overall was under-enrolling infants and toddlers across the state, and disparities were seen among children of color. “In 2018, Texas [Early Childhood Intervention] served 2.34 percent of children under age three, compared to the national average of 3.74 percent, ranking the state 46th in the nation,” the Texans Care for Children report stated. “While Texas [Early Childhood Intervention] enrollment is low for children of all backgrounds, it is disproportionately low for Black children.”