Alabama Families Anxiously Await Outcome Of Autism Bill

Major Robinson is a 6-year-old boy living with autism in Fairhope, Alabama.

Today, as I sat and spoke with his parents, Major sat with us and colored in a coloring book. An activity his mother said wasn’t possible for him even two years ago.

“We couldn’t go into a restaurant, we could barely take a trip to WalMart, and we certainly couldn’t sit down at the table and share an activity together.”,” Rachel Robinson, Major’s mom, said.

However, after 2 years of Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA Therapy Major has made major improvements. Through, ABA Major has learned how to interact with others, how to speak, and how to follow directions.

“It’s just been a God-Send for us and we will continue to do it for as long as we need to and we hope that other families will be able to as well,” Robinson said.

Currently, Alabama is one of five states that does not require insurance coverage of autism treatments. Applied Behavioral Analysis, the gold standard for autism treatment, can cost anywhere between $50-$100 an hour.

April Shaw is the mother of Duece Shaw, another young South Alabama boy living with autism. The Shaw family is one of many that pays for ABA Therapy out of pocket.

“I didn’t know that we would have to pull money off of our credit cards, I didn’t know that we would have to deplete our life savings just to get him the help that he needed,” Shaw said.

The Robinsons’ and the Shaws’ are only two of nearly 50,000 families affected by autism in the state of Alabama. HB284 would require insurance coverage of autism therapy.

The bill has passed the House but is having a hard time making it out of committee. Senator Tripp Pittman has said he will not allow HB284 out of committee as it is written now. Pittman says the current bill proposal would “blow our budget wide open.”

Pittman, whose main concern with the bill is the cost to taxpayers, said he expects more negotiations on HB284.

There are less than five days left of this legislative session meaning a decision will be made soon. If not, lawmakers would have to return for a special session.

Families, like Major’s, are hoping lawmakers will find a way to make sure treatment, like ABA therapy, will be added to the list currently covered by insurance.

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