The kids outside one of the House Building after Clay's Law was passed by the Health and Human Services Senate Sub Committee.
Thursday morning, I hauled myself out of bed at 5:30am and got myself and the two kids ready and drove up to the Capital Building in SLC. We went up to the hearing for Clay's Law by the Health and Human Services Senate Sub Committee. I got there a few minutes late due to the wonderful snow and traffic to find the room packed with people dressed in red (they asked all those supporting the law to wear red). Someone offered to try and squeeze me in the back with Charlie in his stroller but I decided we better hang in the hall/foyer. There were several other parents out there with their children and a lot more by the end of the almost 2 hour hearing.
It was an interesting and comforting experience standing out in the hall repeatedly spinning Charlie around in his stroller or taking short walks and observing the other parents with their children. I struggled to hold the tears back the entire time. I watched two parents taking turns walking with their autistic son up the two flights of stairs and riding down the elevator over and over and over. The other one would go in and listen to the hearing for a while and then come out and they would switch. I saw others struggling with their kids with the oh so familiar look of exhaustion on their faces. Charlie let out his well known "chirps" the whole meeting and instead of disapproving stares or questioning looks, I got sympathetic smiles and a room full of understanding faces. I felt a sense of belonging that I haven't felt in a long time. I kept saying small prayers that the committee members hearts would be softened as they looked out at these desperate parents and kids and that they would have the desire to help us.
There was also a wonderful teenage boy there who was the older brother of an autistic boy. He played with and entertained Winston and a few other little kids almost the entire meeting. It was such a blessing because Winston was bored within the first two minutes of being there. It was a relief to be able to focus most of my attention on keeping Charlie from throwing any more tantrums than necessary. :)
Despite the long wait, I didn't see anyone leave. If passed, this law would give so many families and children help and a hope that is really hard to hold on to with the very, very limited resources for these kids. They kept the double doors open into the room holding the hearing and people were crowded in them and out in the hall but I was able to sneak peeks here and there to try and figure out what was happening. Finally, a loud cheer erupted and everyone was standing and clapping. People started pouring out of the room and there were not many dry eyes in the crowd. I knew they had voted to pass Clay's Law and I couldn't hold back my emotions anymore. I cried right along with the rest and said a little prayer of thanks.
This was only the first of 7 hearings that the law needs to go through and get passed to go into effect starting in July of 2010. Matt is going to write more about what comes next. I'd just like to thank all of you who have helped us out so far and I beg that you will help us get this passed. Matt will post info on how you can help. Please help us give these kids a chance.