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Ten years is a long time to wait for state help to improve the care of a developmentally disabled child or other relative.

But that is the current wait time for assistance for Oklahoma families seeking state-paid special-needs services. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services reports more than 7,200 households are on the list; the estimated waiting time for more than half is six years.

In the meantime, many families tap their own funds or look for alternative funding sources. Some families feel at a loss and despair at times.

Listen to their stories in the latest Oklahoma Watch Report by Brad Gibson.

Applicants for services include those with autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, brain injuries and intellectual disabilities. About half are children. Services can range from personal or medical care and therapy to retrofitting of homes and vehicles for the disabled.

The Legislature appropriated an additional $3 million over three fiscal years to address the long waiting time for state services for the developmentally disabled. But for this year, with budget cuts, no extra money was allocated.

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