[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Bill would require R.I. insurers to cover autism treatment
01:00 AM EDT on Friday, March 26, 2010
By Gina Macris
Journal Staff Writer
The Katzman family of Lincoln once spent $10,000 on two weeks of intensive training so they could all learn the same way of using pictures to communicate with their nonverbal son, Nathan.
Nathan’s mother, Nicole, said the methodical introduction of visual cues enabled her son to make the leap to spoken language.
Diagnosed with profound autism at 18 months, Nathan is now 9 years old and attends a regular third grade, with the help of an aide.
After years of multiple intensive therapies, his diagnosis has shifted to high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome, his mother said.
For children with autism, therapies such as the “picture exchange” and another called Applied Behavioral Analysis, both used by the Katzmans, “are as important as chemotherapy is to children with cancer,” Nicole Katzman said.
But health insurers do not recognize autism as a treatable medical disorder.
Katzman and other advocates testified Wednesday before a special legislative commission studying public policy on autism.
Its chairman, state Rep. Peter G. Palumbo, D-Cranston, has introduced legislation that would require health insurers to cover a variety of treatments for autism prescribed by a physician or psychologist, including medications, psychiatric and psychological care, and treatments that include speech, occupational and physical therapy, as well as “habilitative or rehabilitative” care such as Applied Behavioral Analysis.
A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by state Sen. Edward J. O’Neill, D-North Providence, Pawtucket, and Lincoln. O’Neill’s bill, influenced by Katzman’s experience, also would restructure existing state-financed services for children with autism.
Katzman said her son had to wait six months for state services that his pediatrician wanted to begin immediately after his diagnosis. The state-paid therapists were untrained and unprofessional, she told the commission members, with some claiming hours they didn’t work. One even painted her nails during therapy.
Katzman said health insurance is critical in making life-changing treatments available to all children on the autism spectrum, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay
Fifteen states already have enacted laws requiring coverage of autism, with the nationwide advocacy organization Autism Speaks lobbying for passage in most cases.
Another 20 states, including Rhode Island, have bills on the table, said Lorri Unumb, a Washington, D.C., lawyer for Autism Speaks who also testified.
The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses a variety of behavioral therapies shown effective in improving the interaction of autistic children with their environment and minimizing disruptive behavior that comes from overloading their senses. The picture exchange program which Katzman highlighted is on the academy’s list.
“If it is done early enough it will change their future,” Katzman said. The therapies “can make the difference between a child being nonverbal and having the ability to communicate,” she said.
Unumb, meanwhile, distinguished between special education techniques and behavioral therapies she said should be covered by health insurance.
The schools focus on academic goals, she said, but the intensive, highly specialized programs prescribed by doctors are intended to ameliorate the underlying condition to the maximum extent possible. For example, schools allow diabetic children to go to the nurse’s office to get insulin injections so that they can continue to function in class, but the schools don’t pay for the insulin, Unumb said.
In other states, Unumb said, the health-insurance industry has fought autism coverage “tooth and nail.”
But in states that have mandatory coverage, the added cost has averaged less than 1 percent of premiums, she said.
The Centers for Disease Control recently calculated that autism spectrum disorders affect about 1 in 91 children. Public schools in Rhode Island are serving about 1,600 children with autism, more than double the total in 2003.
The Autism Community Is Not The Autistic Community
More With Autism Votes
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.