State Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, announced the launch of Senate Bill 283, a measure to allow young California residents dealing with traumatic brain injury access to regional disability services.Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking KHTS Santa Clarita News Alerts delivered right to your inbox.
These services are currently unavailable in California if a developmental disability, such as traumatic brain injury, occurs after age 18.
“I can’t even imagine the horror a family goes through when a child suffers a traumatic brain injury; let alone to discover your child is ineligible for services simply because he or she is over 18 years old,” said Wilk. “The medical community believes the brain continues to develop until at least 22 years of age, so it makes sense for California’s eligibility threshold to match scientific data.”
The need for this bill came to Senator Wilk’s attention when he met with James O’Hara from Castaic, a constituent whose son suffered a severe injury to his brain in a car accident shortly after his 18th birthday, making him ineligible for basic therapeutic services needed to restore normal functioning, such as speaking, walking and self-care.
“My son was a gentle soul, a talented sketch artist and model student who worked two jobs to buy his first car at age 16,” said O’Hara. “At 18 his brain injury reduced him to a vegetative state. As a parent, imagine the pain. You can’t. It was so far beyond anything I thought possible to endure. I knew I’d never experience joy again. I was wrong. After years of exhaustive rehabilitation efforts, sometimes creating resources that weren’t available to us, my son is coming back to us in steps. Imagine the joy.”
A developmental disability, such as autism or traumatic brain injury, is defined by California state law as one that originates before an individual turns 18 years old, continues, or can be expected to continue, indefinitely, and creates a substantial disability for that individual.
Senate Bill 283 would adjust the developmental disability definition to raise the age of onset to 22 years.
“Our regional centers specialize in providing community-based services that enable individuals with developmental disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, to achieve their full potential and highest level of self-sufficiency,” Wilk said. “Isn’t that what we want for people and families with these types of traumas?”Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or drop us a line at email@example.com.