Like many 9 year olds, Deuce Shaw has an iPad. However, his iPad is more than just a toy — it’s a tool he uses to communicate.
“He has the functional language of maybe an 18th month old,” said April Shaw, Deuce’s mother.
This iPad is how Deuce is able to communicate his basic needs to people.
“‘I need to go to the bathroom, I need help, something hurts,'” Shaw said. “Anything that goes beyond the few words that he can vocalize, he uses that iPad for.”
Deuce is one of 50,000 Alabamians struggling with autism. His mother says every day is a challenge. Treatments like Applied Behavior Analysis have made a world of difference.
“It was pivotal. As his mother, I had no idea how to help him,” Shaw said. “Had it not been for ABA therapy and the therapists that have worked with him, I wouldn’t have had a clue how to help him.”
Shaw says ABA therapy has a proven record of helping children with autism.
But the challenge for families like the Shaws is the cost of the treatment. Shaw estimates that her family spends $30,000 annually on treatment since Deuce was diagnosed at age two.
House Bill 284 could make major changes for families like the Shaws. Introduced by Rep. Jim Patterson, HB 284 would require state-regulated health insurance plans — including state employee plans — to cover ABA therapy and other medically-necessary treatments for autism.
The bill has not made it out of committee yet.