Sunday, December 31, 2006

NYT Op-Ed: More Needs to Be Done Now for Kids on the Spectrum

This New York Times Op-Ed piece brings up a good point about the Combating Autism Act - while it may do enormous good for the generation to come, families with children with autism need help NOW. some choice quotes:
"In America, you have to be lucky or rich to get proper care for your young autistic child. "

"If we do not help these children, we are essentially condemning them to a lifetime of disability, unemployment and, for many, institutionalization. On human grounds, this is tragic. But it’s also bad economics. The few hundred thousand dollars needed to do intensive early intervention for four or five years — while a lot — is only one-tenth the expected cost of supporting someone for a lifetime on the dole."

"Insurance companies and others often deny coverage by arguing that treatment methods are experimental, but that assertion no longer holds water. Studies now show that 40 percent to 50 percent of toddlers undergoing intensive Applied Behavior Analysis, one of the best-known methods, can be mainstreamed in regular classrooms without personal aides by the time they reach school age. (The figure is close to zero for children not given special care.) Most of the other 50 percent to 60 percent make notable progress too."

"Once the Combating Autism Act is passed, and we hold out hope for the next generation, it is time to rescue the children who already are afflicted. Our options range from mandating that insurance companies cover therapies documented to work, to trumpeting the example of places that do provide coverage in the hope others will follow, to expanding autism Medicaid waivers.
The autism community is encouraged by the recent attention to this profound set of disabilities. But as a nation, we have been letting down 25,000 more children every year. Good will is not enough."

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