Vandi, Elias, Alexis, Lorenzo and Jackie
Vandi and Elias Alba have three children: 12-year-old Alexis and 11-year-old twins Lorenzo and Jackie who were born with autism. After giving birth to twins, Vandi thought she would take a little time off from her $55,000 a year job. This “little time off from work” soon stretched to 10 years off work so that she could provide her children with autism with the support they needed. The Albas would end up spending $10,000 a year for services for Lorenzo and Jackie. For the Alba family, 10 years on the waiting list cost them an estimated $650,000.
It wasn’t long before the Albas were faced with a difficult realization. The specialized services their twins would require were unavailable in Red Oak, Texas. They began researching options and discovered that behavioral services were available in Collin County from providers with extensive experience in childhood autism. Determined to obtain the best possible opportunity and services for their children, Vandi and Elias decided to leave the home in which they had planned to spend the rest of their lives. Elias quit his job, and the family moved to Plano. Once the Albas had relocated, their twins began receiving the services they needed.
Lorenzo was enrolled in specialized speech services designed to increase his auditory functioning, and Jackie was enrolled in behavior training. The Albas were only able to afford these services with assistance from Vandi’s parents in the form of a $20,000 loan.
As the wait continued for waiver services, the Albas were considering a move out of state to seek better options for their children; however, Vandi’s parents both became very ill. As an only child, she took on the task of caring for her father who had Parkinson’s disease and her mother who had cancer. This all took place during the first four years of the twins’ life.
In October of 2007 after spending 10 years on the waiting list, the Albas finally received services for Jackie under the Medicaid Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS) waiver. They chose the Consumer Directed Services (CDS) option which allows them to decide who comes into the family home. Vandi has since returned to work.
Vandi states that what haunts them the most is, “The greatest loss is the loss we will never know. We will never know what 10 years of appropriate therapies and services could have done for our children.” Being interviewed for this report was a very difficult decision for the Albas as they would be forced to relive this difficult experience. However, they knew it was something they had to do because, “We have to change the future. We have to.”