HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Autism matters. That's the message the Autism Society of Alabama wants state lawmakers to hear loud and clear as they call for the state to mandate insurance coverage for autism therapies.
Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have mandated insurance coverage for autism therapies. Alabama is one of just 7 states that does not, but local advocates are pushing to change that.
They're doing so by launching a social media campaign and petition #autismmatters to spread awareness and get legislation passed so children with autism in Alabama can get the therapy they need.
"We need to do something here. It's about time. We're one of the only states left who have not passed this bill," said Lindsay Chapman, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Executive Director of Madison Behavior Therapy.
Chapman says early intervention is critical to making sure children with autism can have a chance for successful lives.
"If we can target therapy when they're younger and get them to a place where they can be independent and enjoy life and be engaged in society, that makes such a difference for these families for the children and the community as a whole," said Chapman.
No private insurance mandate for autism therapy has a huge impact on Alabama families.
"We've seen between six and eight families just this year, just since January 1, who have come to do intake and not one of those families had insurance coverage," said Chapman.
Without insurance, the therapies can cost the family upwards of $100,000 per year. If they can't afford it, children are forced to go without the treatment they need.
"This can be devastating for them, this means injurious behaviors, aggressive behaviors, behaviors that are keeping them out of school, out of the community," said Chapman.
Advocates from the Autism Society of Alabama plan to present their concerns to state legislators in person on March 15th in Montgomery.