A number of different therapies can be beneficial to improving the social and motor skills of an autistic child. Some examples include Applied Behavioral Analysis and Pivotal Response Training. Methods that include your child’s favorite playtime activities can be effective for … Continue reading
Michael Giangregorio, Vice President of Trading Services at JP Morgan has a 12-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. The costs for special schooling and speech and occupational therapy can rack up to the thousands as children get older. His current employer, JP Morgan, recently announced that they will be providing comprehensive autism coverage for expensive therapies such as Applied Behavioral Analysis in its 2014 health plan.
According to a 2012 research study done by the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics costs for people with autism can amount to over $1 million in treatment over their lifespan. An increasing number of major companies, such as General Motors Co., Chrysler Group, and American Express Co., are also announcing this year that they will be including at least partial coverage in their company’s healthcare plan.
Congress is also making moves to implement similar coverage policies. The House took a vote on Friday to send a bill to the Senate that would make it mandatory for insurance companies to provide coverage and treatment for children in Kansas who have been diagnosed with autism. The results were 114-3, and the bill pushes on to the Senate where they will continue the debate on this legislation.
This coverage would help many families in coping with treatment costs for their children, including roughly 1,000 children in Kansas who would be covered under the law. The bill includes guidelines on the number of hours autistic children are allotted to receive these services as well as well as age limits. Insurance companies would have to provide coverage for applied behavioral analysis for up to 25 hours per week for four years after a child is diagnosed. Once the child approaches the age of 12, the number of hours covered is lowered to 10.
Some critics of this bill argue that it is unfair to mandate specific services for their insurance to cover. They believe that this legislation interferes too much into the policies that insurance companies already have. However, legislators, such as Rep. Stan Frownfelter, a Kansas City Democrat is pushing against this criticism by saying, “I didn’t know I worked for insurance companies…We’re here to represent the people.”
Although the future of this bill remains uncertain, we are excited to know that major companies at least have initiated and implemented this push for coverage, with stories such as Michael Giangregario paving the way. Giangregario has also voiced his support with our Director of Strategic Alliances at ICare4Autism, affiliated organization to Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices, in working together with industry professionals to implement positive change for autistic children.
The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center has launched an online course designed to help parents of children with autism better understand behavioral intervention, advocate for their child’s needs in school programs, and navigate the legal rights of disabled persons. The course is divided into ten-modules, allowing parents to set the pace, and is intended for use as early as diagnosis. The lessons follow six families of children with autism spectrum disorder through common scenarios to guide parents in the implementation of Behavioral Intervention strategies. The program manager, Maura Buckley, a mother of two young teenagers with autism, used her experience navigating the various systems of care and education to form this parental guide. Buckley notes having felt uninvolved and uninformed about her children’s daily lives while in school and therapy. She asserts the benefits of the new program saying, “Being able to interact with the professionals who are helping my child, and being able to advocate for what they need is so important.”[i] Seminars can be difficult to coordinate attending, especially for a parent of a child with autism, so an online program allows accessibility to up-to-date information on intervention strategies and educational approaches, bridging the gap between specialists and parents. Additionally, equipping parents with the knowledge of behavioral intervention will allow parents to reinforce their children’s progress from school and therapy programs, providing the most comprehensive care for individuals on the autism spectrum. Parents who take the course will know what and how to inform specialists of behavior at home as well as how to best respond in particular circumstances. The course is available for monthly, quarterly, and annual subscription atudiscovering.org. The experts responsible for the course are in the process of creating an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) course for paraprofessionals, to be released this summer.
[i] Meindersma, Sandy. “Medical School Launches Online Course for Parents of Children with Autism.” Worcester Telegram & Gazette. N.p., 26 May 2013. Web. 28 May 2013. <http://www.telegram.com/
When Fred and Alicia Harmon originally opened Lil’ Treasures Thrift Shoppe it was to increase the family’s income. However it has blossomed into so much more than that, donating a portion of their income to autism research and providing a place for families with autism to stop in and find support. The store is also a welcoming environment for the Harmon’s twin autistic boys to learn social skills.
William and Luke, who were diagnosed as autistic at age 5, are average 7-year-olds who jump, play and run, but lack a natural fear of danger or sense of safety.
An alarm had to be put on their bedroom window and various locks on their bedroom door because William and Luke have tried to leave the house at 2 a.m. to play. Luke once temporarily shut down the Oklahoma City zoo when he scaled the wall of a closed exhibit to play in the dirt. Continue reading
On November 1st 2011 Governor Cuomo officially signed the autism insurance reform bill into law. The bill was created in order to prevent insurance companies from using discriminatory practices with patients who have a diagnosis of autism, by ensuring that they receive the medical care to which they are entitled. Under the new legislation companies must provide coverage for evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA.) This relieves a huge burden for parents and relatives who recognize the importance of these treatments and need to defray the high costs of therapy Continue reading