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Wednesday, June 28, 2006 06:32 am

Letters to the Editor

In and around Springfield

We welcome letters, but please include your full name, address, and daytime telephone number. We edit all letters for libel, length, and clarity. Send letters to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

DEMENTIA RESEARCH CONTINUES HERE
Kudos to Lauren Traut for her June 15 article “Losing Eddie,” in which she brings to public attention the devastating effects of dementia on the personal, social, and family life of Eddie Hosty, who has been diagnosed with Pick’s disease. Pick’s disease is form of dementia that differs in many respects from Alzheimer’s disease in that it has an earlier average age of onset and an often more rapid course and in that it presents characteristically with different initial symptoms. It is one of a general group of frontotemporal dementias, so called because they tend to affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain primarily and tend to have distinct appearances when brain tissue from these regions is examined at the microscopic level. Our understanding of this group of dementias is still evolving, even though Arnold Pick published one of the first documented cases almost exactly 100 years ago.

Pick’s disease, unlike Alzheimer’s disease, usually becomes first manifest with personality changes, changes in speech, aberrant behavior, disinhibition, and sometimes mood disorders, anxiety (obsessive-compulsive symptoms), or psychosis. It is usually only later in the course of the disease that memory problems, problems of recognition, mutism, and problems with physical movement develop. The diagnosis of Pick’s disease — as well as most of the degenerative dementias — often rests with postmortem examination of the brain, although strides have been made in being able to correctly diagnose and treat these illnesses.

Much work remains to be done, and the clock is ticking as the portion of the population most affected by these illnesses grows. Concerted research and treatment efforts are ongoing and available at many major academic centers including the Southern Illinois University Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders located here in Springfield.

Thanks to Illinois Times for its coverage of this difficult illness and the courage with which one family faces it.
Jeffrey Bennett, M.D.
Director, Psychiatry Residency Training
SIU School of Medicine

HOW TO GET CHILD-SUPPORT HELP
In your article “Deadbeats or dead broke” [R.L. Nave, June 22], one mother you mentioned was not aware that federal and state tax refunds may be intercepted for delinquent child support. This enforcement method is only available to parents who receive services through the state child-support-enforcement program administered in Illinois by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Child-support services are free. Any parent or legal guardian who has a child-support order or who needs to establish legal parentage, child support, or medical support can apply for services, regardless of income.

The benefits of participating in the Illinois child-support program include assistance in establishing legal parentage; assistance in establishing child support or medical support; assistance in enforcing child support, including automatic issuance of income-withholding notices to employers; offset of unemployment-insurance benefits and referrals for court action against delinquent parents; enforcement of delinquent support through interception of state tax refunds and lottery winnings; interception of federal tax refunds; passport denial; suspension or revocation of professional, occupational, or recreational licenses; seizure of bank accounts or other financial assets; placement of liens; and publication of the delinquent [parent’s name] on our Web site.

Child support is important to both the economic and emotional stability of families. According to the Center for Law and Social Policy, child support is the second largest income source for low-income families and reduces the poverty gap for children by 8 percent.

Under the leadership of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Healthcare and Family Services director Barry Maram, the child-support program in Illinois has been completely transformed. In the mid-1990s, Illinois’ child-support program’s performance fell steeply, causing hardship for thousands of Illinois parents. Since Gov. Blagojevich was elected in 2002, his administration has worked hard to turn Illinois’ record around and help struggling single parents meet their families’ needs. Illinois now has an award-winning program with collections of more than $1 billion and innovative new approaches to both collect more child support and promote more regular payments of support.

Parents and guardians can apply for child-support-enforcement services by downloading an application from our Web site at www.ilchildsupport.com or by calling our customer-service line at 800-447-4278.
Pamela Compton
Administrator, Division of
Child Support Enforcement
Healthcare and Family Services
Springfield

THE SAME AS CHILD ABUSE
I just had to respond to a reference of possibly changing a law in regard to back child support owed. If they negotiate the noncustodial parents’ back debt, I dearly hope that somehow they figure a way for that custodial parent to get all the monies that are owed. Yes, owed. When a noncustodial parent fails to make support payments, the child’s livelihood is then totally dependent on one parent’s income. The custodial parent is forced in a position of acquiring all the finances to clothe, feed, and house the child. Most — not all, but most — custodial parents are already climbing uphill alone in order to provide all the emotional, educational, and recreational needs for their child. Now all financial, too? Why erase the debt? You can’t file bankruptcy on a child support. Why not? Because children are both parents’ responsibility. Can the custodial parent say, “I don’t think I will buy food for my child anymore or buy clothes for my child this year. Money is a little tight for me, so I think I will make them sleep outside and fend for themselves?” No, that is neglect and abuse.

So, in my opinion, when parents are required to pay support and they don’t, it is the same as abusing children. They are saying [the children] are not worth it; fend for yourself. People do what they want to do; they do what is important to them. Do they make a car payment? If their children are important to them, they will figure a way to pay what they are supposed to. The custodial parents figured out a way to make ends meet, didn’t they?

Bottom line, you gotta wanna.
Tami McKittrick
Springfield

WAKE UP, SMELL THE COFFEE
This is my last word to LaDonna McClanahan on rundown neighborhoods [see “Letters,” June 22]. First of all, Ms. McClanahan needs to tell the slumlords and the people who live in these homes to clean them up — it’s not my job. I’m 76 years old, and my wife and I take care of our property. Ms. McClanahan should talk to the City Council and her alderman and tell them to get on these slumlords.

When the government started the Section 8 program is when neighborhoods went downhill. As long as the people get their money, they care less about keeping the property up.

Wake up, Ms. McClanahan, and smell the coffee.
Danny Faulkner
Springfield

A HEAVIER CROSS TO BEAR
I witnessed something a few days ago that impressed me deeply.

The Senior Golf League, of which I am a member, plays each weekday at different public courses.

On this particular day, as we approached the first tee, there were two boys, 10 to 12 years of age, teeing off. Both hit excellent drives. They then went to their pull carts and put their clubs in their respective bags. It was then I noticed something absolutely unexpected. One of the boys, small in stature, had what appeared to be prosthetic devices on his lower legs. As best we could ascertain, the devices were not braces. It was the consensus of the group that the boy’s lower legs were missing and he had artificial limbs.

My foursome was first off; therefore we followed the two young men for nine holes. The physically challenged youth pushed his cart every inch of the nine holes.

We are men in our sixties, seventies, and eighties, with a few in the nineties. As can be imagined, there are more aches and pains in the group than can be listed. But what we saw today was a reminder that there is always a fellow human who has a heavier cross to bear.

To see that brave, determined young man push his cart up the hills of the course was a humbling experience and one I will never forget.

Considering the extraordinary effort of this young man and the respectful behavior of the many youngsters on the golf courses, there is no question our country will be in good hands when their time comes to lead.

John D. Kolaz
Springfield

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