Michigan Becomes 30th State to Embrace Autism Mandates

Later in April, the 3 bills passed by the Michigan legislature will go to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature. It is expected that he will sign, being a strong advocate for helping Michigan families struggling with the expensive costs of helping children with autism.

As a former Michigan resident I can attest to the lack of BCBAs. We were fortunate to have lived in an area of the state that had choices and our family was able to secure a good one. It will be many years before Michigan is prepared to serve the needs of the 15,000 or so autistic children who will benefit from this mandate. But, passage of the bills is a great start to a long road ahead.

We, personally, are on the fence in regard to government-imposed mandates. Many of the states have passed legislation, but the logistical efforts required to properly execute the program may prove little help top those states autistic population (in lieu of pointing fingers specifically, I’ll just leave it that not all state mandates are equal). As parents to autistic children who have paid tens of thousands out of pocket for the services that will now be subsidized by insurance companies, I can appreciate the effort. However, there is a side that must ask the question: Is it right and fair for the government to require an insurance organization to cover a disorder that may perhaps cost more than premiums can offset and still generate profit? As a supporter of less governmental interference and letting free enterprise work its magic in the marketplace, there is a side that questions if it is indeed the right thing to require insurance companies to accept this burden. The schools point and say it is a healthcare related issue. The insurance companies point and say it is an educational disorder. Either way, someone is going to pay somewhere in the system. Ultimately, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the ones ultimately responsible for their autistic child’s care and development is the parents. Parents should use any and all legal means within the confines of the system (and maybe perhaps out of the system sometimes, lol) in order to secure the best care possible for their child. And that many times costs money, a complete life change, an expensive personal education and sometimes painful periods in life.

I am eager to hear what you think about mandates, insurance coverage for autism and the parent’s role in the responsibility of leading the education and development of their child?

In advocacy,

Mike

New CDC Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorders

The recent publishing of the new statistics for ASD by the CDC are certainly not surprising. I don’t know about you, but I see autistic children EVERYWHERE. Of course, when you have a child in your home who lives with autism it doesn’t take long to recognize the signs in other children. Dropping down to 1 in 88, and 1 in 54 should give pause to everyone, regardless if you have a child with autism or not. The growth in diagnosis is going to have a profound impact on society as a whole. I am a firm believer that resources need to be created and maximized in order to more effectively and quickly diagnosis and treat those on the spectrum as early as humanly possible. The earlier the intervention starts in life the better that child’s chances are for a potential full recovery. Changing the diagnosis and “shrinking” the parameters to exclude those on the fringes of the spectrum is only going to cause a greater problem in society. The saying goes, “pay now or pay later.” The problem with not providing necessary interventions to this growing sect of our population screams, “pay now or pay much, much more later.” Our overburdened Medicaid system, and dare I say judicial system will receive an influx of those in the decades ahead from those children today who do not or cannot receive the help they need.

What you can do now is to educate yourself. Look at the facts and statistics. And if you know a family who is dealing with autism in the home, reach out and offer a helping hand in someway. Even just encouragement into the family living with autism makes a tremendous difference.

In advocacy,

Mike

The Push Back Against Autism Mandates Is Growing

It was just brought to my attention that a bill has been introduced (PCB HSQS 12-03) to repeal the Autism Mandate that Florida voted into law in 2008.

This is certainly no surprise.

With the impending changes to federal health care and how the states services fall into the exchanges, it is no surprise that this is beginning of something that is sure to gain speed. I am surprised it took this long.

There is too much grey area with the impending Obamacare.

Let’s face facts. Treating autism costs a great deal of money. The argument rages between health insurance providers and state educators on who who is responsible for the costs associated with treating out kids. This is going to go on for a long time.

Our autistic children, who are in the minority but live with a condition with life-long, fiscally-impacting issues, are going to get snubbed when the “greater good of society” has to go under the microscope of fiscal trimming and limited budgets. It is what it is.

CARD of Florida sent me an email on who to write to express our support to defeat any changes to the hard-fought Florida law that protects the autistic children in the state. Also attached is the bill circulating through the Florida legislature. The email I receivedHSQS3[1] is posted below:

Dear CARD Constituents,

The House has presented a bill that will repeal the Autism Insurance Mandate that parents worked so hard to achieve (find a copy of the bill attached to this email). It is going to be heard January 31, 2012 in the House Health and Human Services Quality Committee in HOB 102.
Everyone who wishes to stop this bill to call, fax, and email your legislators now!!
Below is the committee contact information.

First Name Last Name District City District State District Phone Tallahassee St TLH Phone Email Address
Larry Ahern St. Petersburg FL (727) 545-6421 1102 The Capitol (850) 488-6197 larry.ahern@myfloridahouse.gov

Jim Boyd Bradenton FL (941) 708-4968 1102 The Capitol (850) 488-4086 jim.boyd@myfloridahouse.gov

Clay Ford Pensacola FL (850) 595-5550 303 House Office Bldg. (850) 488-0895 clay.ford@myfloridahouse.gov

Eddy Gonzalez Hialeah Gardens FL (305) 364-3066 214 House Office Bldg. (850) 488-1683 eddy.gonzalez@myfloridahouse.gov

Matt Hudson Naples FL (239) 417-6270 222 The Capitol (850) 488-1028 matt.hudson@myfloridahouse.gov

Mia Jones (M) Jacksonville FL (904) 924-1615 405 House Office Bldg. (850) 488-6893 mia.jones@myfloridahouse.gov

Jeanette M. Nuñez Miami FL (305) 227-7630 1003 The Capitol (850) 488-7897 jeanette.nunez@myfloridahouse.gov

Jose Oliva Hialeah FL 1301 The Capitol (850) 487-2197 jose.oliva@myfloridahouse.gov

Ari Porth Coral Springs FL (954) 346-2810 405 House Office Bldg. (850) 488-2124 ari.porth@myfloridahouse.gov

Scott Randolph Orlando FL (407) 893-3084 1302 The Capitol (850) 488-0660 scott.randolph@myfloridahouse.gov

Betty Reed Tampa FL (813) 241-8024 405 House Office Bldg. (850) 488-5432 betty.reed@myfloridahouse.gov

Ronald ”Doc” Renuart Ponte Vedra Beach FL (904) 270-2550 319 The Capitol (850) 488-0001 ronald.renuart@myfloridahouse.gov

Patrick Rooney, Jr. Palm Beach Gardens FL (561) 625-5176 324 The Capitol (850) 488-0322 pat.rooney@myfloridahouse.gov

Elaine Schwartz Hollywood FL (954) 924-3813 1402 The Capitol (850) 488-0465 elaine.schwartz@myfloridahouse.gov

John Wood Haines City FL (863) 419-3470 214 House Office Bldg. (850) 488-2721 john.wood@myfloridahouse.gov

Moving From Kids to Adults Who Are Employed

I recently finished reading a transition guide for autistic children who are approaching the age of 16. It focused on all things related to the transition that all autistic children go through as they more from young adolescent to adulthood.

I know I am premature in thinking this as my oldest is not yet 8-years-old, but I still want to be able to point others in the right direction as an advocate.

This recent article at Autism Speaks made me think two things: early detection and early intervention.

The earlier autism is discovered through well-baby checks by pediatricians who are adeptly trained to look for the warning signs in routine checkups, and as those children are quickly put into early intervention programs I believe statistics like these will reduce in the decades ahead.

To see the entire article click HERE:

With the current estimate that 80% of individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are under the age of 18, the next ten years will see a wave of adults on the spectrum entering the workforce. Today’s reality is, however, that most of these adults will never achieve full employment. Of those that do find jobs, many will be underemployed. The data is not encouraging. In a 2008 study of 200 families with transition age and adult children with an ASD, conducted by the University of Miami/Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, 74% of the respondents were unemployed and 74% of those employed worked less than 20 hours a week. These facts must serve as a call to arms for advocates in the autism community. As the population of individuals with autism matures, so must the movement that has pushed so successfully to develop programs and resources for children on the spectrum. While the focus on adult issues – employment, housing, financial planning – is growing, we are still running to catch up with the needs of our adults with autism.