Tennessee families struggling to have their autistic children treated liked other kids were dealt another blow when they learned a bill was pulled in the Tennessee General Assembly that would have increased insurance coverage for children with autism.
Children that are on the autism spectrum deal with developmental disabilities that typically cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.
Medical costs associated with doctors, pharmaceuticals and similar medical necessities as well as occupational, speech, physical and other therapies cause incredible financial stressors that add to the overwhelming emotional stress caused by caring for autistic children.
While the national divorce/separation rate for first marriages hovers at 40 to 50 percent, divorce rates for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, is said to be as high as 80 percent.
Sponsored by state Sen. Jim Tracy, the bill (House Bill 1265-Senate Bill 1286) would have required health insurance policies to cover screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. Insurance would have covered applied behavior analysis (ABA).
Tracey pulled the bill from the legislative calendar citing lack of support to get it passed. Without his support it couldn’t be pushed forward. Parents and other advocate groups were preparing to come from all over to support the bill.
Coverage would have been extended to children ages 3 to 15.
ABA principles and techniques can help students improve basic skills such as looking and listening, as well as complex skills such as reading and conversing with others.
Autism rates climbed nearly 30 percent between 2008 and 2010 and have more than doubled since the turn of the century, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is now believed to affect one of every 68 8-year-olds — up from one in 88 just two years earlier.
To come up with its new figures, the CDC reviewed medical and school records from 2010 at 11 different sites across the country. There is a huge range in autism prevalence across those sites, from one child in 175 found with autism in Alabama, to one in 46 in New Jersey.
April is Autism Awareness Month.