Advocates ask lawmakers for better autism insurance

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A new bill would coverage for autistic disorders under certain circumstances.

Ashley cares for her five-year-old son who has autism, a condition that affects one in 68 children.

“Typical things that a six-year-old gets to enjoy, we have to sit down and plan out and think about and worry about what could go wrong,” said Ashley, mother of Lanham.

Her son, Lanham, has trouble speaking and hits himself when he feels overwhelmed.

“He could be hitting himself over frustration from communication because he lacks speech, or he could be hitting himself because he didn’t want to pick up that blue crayon that you said, ‘Pick up that blue crayon,’” Ashley said.

Ashley and her husband used Lanham’s college money to pay for Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy.

So far, they’ve spent $40,000.

“They had it under control within weeks,” she said.

Right now, this therapy and many other autism treatments aren’t covered under many insurance companies.

That’s why advocates are hoping to change legislation with an insurance reform bill.

“We’re not asking for any special treatment, just equal treatment that other states have already passed,” said Tara Hood, an advocate.

Forty-three other states passed similar autism reform legislation.

Hood is hoping Oklahoma will be next on the list.

“If my daughter had a different diagnosis of ADHD, it would be covered. I’m not sure why autism is excluded,” Hood said.

Both parents think more insurance coverage will be beneficial to the public as children with this disability become adults.

“They don’t need it when they’re adult. They need it now to get it going, so they can become productive members of society and not drain on society the way they will if they’re not helped,” Ashley said.

For more information on the bill that would require coverage for autistic disorders under certain circumstances, click here.

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