It was the last of many important days for families with children dealing with autism, as legislation to force insurance companies to provide coverage for autism treatment was finally signed into law.
The bill signing ceremony at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Columbia was the last of three for the day, and as was likely the case in Springfield and St. Louis, the room was filled with families on the verge of tears. That’s because this day comes after years of work in the legislature.
“This day, it’s just a dream come true. It’s amazing in every way I keep looking over the bill thinking, OK is there any loophole I’m going to fall through?” said Tammy Maasen, whose daughter Tiara was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in August of 2007
Maasen says her daughter has fought off many of the effects of autism through applied behavioral analysis therapy, which is one of the treatments that will be covered by insurance now, up to $40,000 a year.
“It’s the key. The early intervention. The progress my daughter has made with ABA just in the time that we’ve been in the program, I know it’s the key. I know, I finally know after a year that I don’t have to live forever and I won’t have to plan long-term care for her,” Maasen said.
At 2 years old, Tiara was nonverbal and was considered a danger to herself and others because of her intense negative behaviors
“The therapy provided by the EIBI program has helped her climb many mountains today tiara speaks in small sentences. She initiates conversation and she enjoys attention, and enjoys singing, dancing and playing with toys. She is an amazing child in spite of all the difficulties she faces,” Maasen said.
Maasen says once the bill takes effect January 1st, it will make a huge change to her daughter’s life, as it will to every other family with a child with autism.
“A lot of us parents, we self treat, because we know we won’t have the money. I was able to take her to one (specialized) doctor, and from that I might have learned a few things I could share with another mom. But until more money comes in, I mean she needs to go to that doctor again, and I’m hoping, I’m hoping that coverage will be in the bill, because $285 an hour, on the first visit its a minimum of 4 hours,” Maasen said.
Maasen spoke at the event, applauding the Governor and the legislature for making this a priority this year. Tiara was in the front row, and Maasen says that’s evidence of her progress.
“She’s just amazing. I know that she has many more mountains to climb, but a year ago she would have never come in this room with this many people. If she did, she would have cowered under that table and she would have screamed. She was able to tolerate it, kind of enjoy it, I mean she had some focus and attention… that… she’s going to be fine. She’s going to be just fine, she’s always going to have to work harder, but she’s going to be just fine,” Maasen said.
For more information on the new law, follow this link.