As all too many parents know, the cost of behavior therapy for children with autism is very high. I understand it can be as much as $1,000 per week. I believe that health insurance should be available and affordable if at all possible. If autism advocates get their way, the states will require health insurers to cover intensive and costly behavior therapy for autism. In the past two years, six states ‘ Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana ‘ passed laws requiring such coverage, costing in some cases up to $50,000 a year per child. Indiana passed a poorly written law in 2001.
The powerful advocacy group Autism Speaks has endorsed bills in New Jersey, Virginia and Michigan and is targeting at least ten more states in 2009, including New York, California and Ohio. Other states, including Illinois, have similar bills in the works, but those states aren’t working directly with Autism Speaks. I am not aware of Alabama being a target state, but in my opinion, it should be.
Behavior therapy for children with autism is a necessity and many parents simply can’t afford it. Trained therapists, using principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA), can certainly be helpful. Health insurance that covers the needed therapy is a necessity. It’s no longer acceptable to allow blatant discrimination against people with autism.
Autism is a range of disorders that hinder the ability to communicate and interact. Unfortunately, most doctors believe there is no cure. An estimated one in 150 American children is diagnosed with it. Supporters say behavior therapy has decades of research behind it and can save money in the long run by keeping people out of institutions. Researchers agree, but say much remains unknown about which therapy works best for children with autism, whether long-term gains may be attained, and whether it works with older children. Some states require behavior therapy coverage up to age 18 or 21. But the scientific evidence for ABA is strongest for the youngest, ages two to five. Some researchers have reported on individual children with autism who no longer appear disabled when they reach school age. The most rigorous studies, however, show mixed results. In my opinion, this is an issue that should be addressed by all states’ legislative bodies next year. If you agree, contact the governor of your state and also your legislators.
Source: Associated Press
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