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Chaffin Family: Eccentric, but Not Prejudiced

As a former friend of Alex Chaffin and patron of Chaffin's Family Restaurant, I felt I should comment ("One Day at Chaffin's," Currents, Feb. 23). I was very surprised by the article and alleged incident. Although I can honestly say I viewed the Chaffin family to be more than a little eccentric, I have never seen them or experienced them to have any biased or prejudiced views.

I came to know them because Alex was involved in my fiancé's fraternity, at the UA. His father and mother have always expressed very liberal views in my discussions with them, and if I had to describe them, I would and have referred to them as hippies. I find it hard to believe that a family with such a liberal and progressive attitude would ever discriminate against anyone.

I sincerely hope that this situation gets resolved without any further dispute, and that all who are involved can come to a peaceful understanding.

Lisa Berg


Don't Trust Complainers; Decide About Chaffin's Yourself

I recently ate at Chaffin's with a group of friends, including gays and lesbians. We received friendly service from the wait staff and Mr. Chaffin himself, and the food was excellent. Chaffin's daughter is a long-time friend of one of my gay friends, and she even came and sat with us.

Is Chaffin going to lose business and even potentially be driven out of business because of a perceived slight and a boycott organized against him by the LGBT community? I believe that Chaffin is a man wrongly accused and potentially the real victim in this situation. If so, this would prove true one of the worst accusations against the left: Political correctness is the new McCarthyism.

Let's not become what we most despise. Don't blacklist Chaffin's. Eat there and decide for yourself.

Tiernan Erickson


Cost Insanity Reigns With Hospitals, Insurance

I loved Karyn Zoldan's health rant. ("Health Insurance," The Rant Issue, Feb. 23). However, there is another aspect.

Within the last year, I went to a hospital that is "nonprofit" and had a bunch of tests run on me as an outpatient. About six months after the test, my insurance company informed me that the tests were billed for $1,500. Since the hospital was a provider for my insurance company, they had accepted as full payment $275.

Fast-forward a few months, and a neighbor told me that she had gone to the same "nonprofit" hospital for outpatient tests. She had been laid off by her company and could not afford to keep the insurance. In short course, she received a bill from the hospital informing her that her insurance company had rejected her claim. The bill was for more than $3,000--and they wanted the whole amount from her. In short time, she was sent second, third, etc., notices, even though she called and explained she was out of work. She received a final notice and then a notice from the collection company.

Let's see ... they accepted $275 as full payment for $1,500 worth of tests because of my insurance company. They want $3,000 from my neighbor because she does not have insurance. DUH! If she could afford insurance, she would have it; if she can't afford insurance, how does she come up with $3,000?

I feel like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole into topsy-turvy world--except unlike Alice, I am fully covered by my insurance company.

R. Lieber


Parents Need to Lead Autism Battle

Many thanks to Renée Downing for taking on this topic ("Autistic in Tucson," March 2). Despite autism's prevalence, there has been little funding or publicity for a devastating disorder that affects many.

My family would like to make one clarification: While the medical professionals did have little input in the discovery of the autism or the recommendations for treatments, they did make the diagnosis which opened the door to services. We are also especially grateful to our pediatrician who listened to our concerns and helped us get the referrals we needed to obtain the diagnosis and get suitable treatment.

The main fighters in this battle will always be the parents, who may go up against many naysayers, including naysayers from their own families. The parents know their children and they know what their children need. The best advice I could give these parents is to trust yourselves and stay involved in the entire process. No one else will help your child with everything he/she needs if you aren't there looking out for your him/her.

Jonathan Reich


Some Suggestions for Less-Well-Off Autistic Families

I wanted to thank you for Renée Downing's piece. While I found the article mostly geared toward the more well-off parents of autistic children in Tucson, I appreciated the time Downing put into studying autism and its impact on real lives.

I have been lucky to have a wonderful proactive pediatrician, who referred my (now) 5-year-old autistic son to the Division of Developmental Disabilities the moment I expressed concern about him. I have also been lucky to have (mostly) fantastic therapists working with him since he was 15 months old.

However, those of us living below the poverty level must rely completely on services that DDD provides. While DDD tries its best to provide all the services that are needed, there is no way it can--especially in these political times, when money can be found to fund wars but not children's programs.

The biggest problem when dealing with DDD is finding enough service providers to provide the actual services. I am currently looking for an occupational therapist for my son, because his previous OT doesn't want to work in central Tucson any longer. DDD told me that I needed to find a new provider myself, or my son would be placed on a waiting list. That waiting list runs four years on average, so he might get services before he starts junior high--or he might not. I'm in the process of trying to find someone, but I'm not optimistic. In the past, I have tried to find respite providers. That was an exercise in futility.

As it is, almost 100 percent of our son's care falls to my husband and me, with some help from extended family and friends. We were told that we could get family members registered with DDD to provide respite. Of course, if we had family who could do it, we wouldn't need DDD to pay them.

There are some other resources I would recommend for parents who must rely on DDD alone for services. To help your child with socialization and just get him out to play, Challenger Little League is a great organization. It costs only $30 for a child to play, and it's geared toward children with physical, mental and developmental disabilities. The local organization can be found at www.tucsonchallenger.org. For parents who need support and help from others in the same boat, there is Parents for Autism Support and Services, which provides support, education and help finding services to parents of autistic children of all ages. They hold meetings on the northwest side of town once a month.

Kimberly Doss-Cortes


And We Conclude With a Word of Thanks

I wanted to thank Irene Messina for highlighting WomanKraft as the Pick of the Week ("Erotic Expressions, March 2). We had many new people show up at our opening reception because of the Weekly. We're a nonprofit dedicated to serve the community, and you helped expose us to a number of people who had no idea we existed. Keep up the good work!

Quynn Elizabeth, WomanKraft Art Center

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