R. Ulrickson: Autism: A parent’s perspective

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I am writing in response to the Associated Press article titled “Autism coverage faces fight for funds” by Alanna Durkin that appeared on Jan. 20.

I have a unique insight into the problems that children with autism and their families face. Not only am I a parent of a 13-year-old child with Asperger’s syndrome, I have also been an educator of special needs children for nearly eight years. I have personally witnessed the incredible differences that effective, early intervention can provide and the horrors that come with inappropriate diagnoses and lack of resources and support to struggling parents.

Though I am pleased that the Legislature is attempting to have services covered by private insurance, there are points in the article that concern me.

My greatest concern is that the age for coverage may be raised only to 10 or 14. From my experience, parents of children with autism face the most challenges when their children are young and then when their children reach adolescence.

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Even parents of “typical” children struggle through the adolescent years. Those challenges are multiplied when their children have autism. I can attest to those difficulties because I am experiencing them now.

If the bill limits the age, those parents may go without necessary resources to help their children through that difficult time in life.

Every child diagnosed with autism has the potential to be independent, productive members of society with the appropriate interventions.

They must be given the opportunities they deserve.

Roy Ulrickson III, Dexter

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