Insufficient Internet means no more therapy for autistic boy in rural MN

Today I wanted to share a story from Kirsten K just outside Biwabik about her son Dalton. It’s a reminder that not everyone in Minnesota has access to adequate broadband – and not having access limits opportunities. Here’s Kristen’s story…

My son has autism, and because of our lack of sufficient internet service here, they dropped us from his ABA therapy program. Unfortunately, it has very noticeably affected his progress socially and behaviorally. Autistic kids learn extremely effectively by electronic methods, especially videos. However, since moving here from Eveleth a couple years ago, I am sadly unable to offer him the video options that would help him to further develop behavioral and living skills. Autistic children like mine, who usually have limited communication abilities, blossom under the help of therapists who cannot physically travel to my home, but who can bridge the distance with a laptop computer and a face-to-face video call app like Skype or Facetime.

We pretty much gave up on using the dialup. I think it’s pretty obvious to most people that it’s not even usable with today’s technology. We then tried Hughesnet which was extremely costly and worked a total of maybe 15 minutes per day. We finally gave up and turned off the service, losing over three hundred dollars in the process. We now have a small, closely monitored data package on satellite, but it crashes often and is too expensive to help my son with videos.

We had hoped that in due time, a company would want to serve the roughly two hundred households affected by our lack of internet options. We were wrong. We now have as few internet options living four miles from Biwabik as people who live in the middle of a desert or in a forest. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. I was told that Lake Connect gets so many calls from our area, but they don’t have money to come this far. They stop somewhere between Hwy 53 and Cedar Lake, which not far from us either.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, education, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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