Those who care for the disabled deserve a living wage [Letter]

Thank you for your wonderful piece on the angels who take care of our disabled population ("Minimum wage debate ignores crucial group," Jan. 15).

I am the mother of a 21-year-old, profoundly autistic young man who attends the day program at the League for People with Disabilities. The people who work with him every day are incredible and display a rare compassion and patience not seen in most workplaces. I work for the federal government and have yet to encounter anyone with the compassion that is shown by any of the members of the team who work with my son.

When you speak of bodily risk, just this week, my son inadvertently injured the leader of his team. While not aggressive toward others, he can jump up and down when his routine is interrupted. Well, his routine was interrupted, and he started jumping up and down and ended up head butting his team leader with the result that she chipped her front tooth and had to go to the ER.

As a parent, I rely on these team members to care for my son, and as he moves into a group home setting, I will rely on the caregivers in his group home. Without these hard-working members of the community, I would be at a loss as to what I would do.

So why is it that those in our community who choose not to work receive benefits that far outweigh in dollars the pay of the caregivers of the disabled?

It is past time for state lawmakers to recognize the disabled population, those that care for them and the parents of the disabled. For too long lawmakers have treated the disabled as nonvoting members and, as a result, pushed their issues aside.

Well, Maryland lawmakers, take heed: Their parents advocate for them and, believe it or not, vote. Raise the wages of the people who care for the disabled and stop treating them as if somehow they don't do an honest day's work.

Renee Gordon

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