PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The state child welfare agency’s plan to eliminate $1 million in its budget next year for a program to educate children with autism drew emotional testimony from parents of children afflicted with the disorder at hearing Wednesday before the House Finance Committee.
Claudia Swaider, the mother of two boys with autism, held up a photograph of them as she recounted their ordeal. Her son, Adam, used to spiral out of control in a regular public school, punching his head through walls and hitting staff, until the public school administrators "threw up their hands."
Her family was in turmoil; her marriage fraying. Then, she and her husband found out about The Groden Center, a Providence-based school and residential treatment center for children with autism and other developmental disorders.
"Groden was the only one able to take a chance on both boys," Swaider said, choking back tears. "They took my family, which was being slowly destroyed, and gave Adam and Matthew the chance of a lifetime."