Commentary: Delaware is failing to provide autism support

April 2 is World Autism Day. Recently I received a bill for ABA services, charges which have accrued since last year. It was my understanding that Delaware Medicaid (our son has children’s alternative disability Medicaid) was covering these co-payments.

ABA is the most extensively researched, evidence-based therapy for autism. Why is it that my federal insurance pays for it no problem, yet Delaware has issues paying the $30 copays?

I have tried to get more information/help, but I get sent on a wild goose chase, calling 10 or 11 state numbers, leaving voicemails, not getting called back, getting redirected to a different person and I get nowhere. My son’s DDS worker has failed to return calls.

Because of several elopements from his local public elementary school, regression and failure to make any progress with his IEP goals, (as a direct result of untrained teachers and school staff) our child now requires an ABA therapist at school (at our expense). The school is out of compliance with IDEA laws.

Delaware has insurance mandates for ABA therapy, yet they do not follow through and pay their share of bills for ABA therapies. I am aware of state employees who are unable to access this crucial therapy, (which is best started from an early age) because of some arbitrary credentialing process the state dictates. If the federal government has confirmed the credentials of the provider and are paying the bulk of the bill, what is the problem with the state? I find it is convenient that Delaware would make it difficult for providers to become credentialed. Delaware doesn’t have to pay.

The Alex Eldreth Bill (HB 292) was passed to address some of the concerns regarding autism and public education in Delaware. Yet, not only did Gov. Carney not fully fund it in the next fiscal year, they have yet to even hire a director.

I do not intend for my son with autism to go without these necessary services and become an adult dependent on the state. Adam Lanza also had autism and did not get appropriate services. These kids not getting appropriate services are at high risk of becoming adults who are dependent, exploited,and even inappropriately incarcerated as a result of their disability which features difficulties with social communication.

In honor of Autism Awareness Month please help advocate for those with autism by featuring the struggles faced by Delaware families. Please explore Delaware’s failure to do their part to ensure adequate care and services for these kids who will become adults whether they get help or not.

Jamie Fairbanks is a resident of Dover.

EDITOR’S NOTE FROM MS. FAIRBANKS: 

I would like to clarify a couple of things. The staff and teachers at my son’s school have consistently, over the last five years, worked tirelessly for him with the limited resources and training available to them. My husband and I are extremely grateful to teachers and school staff  for their ongoing support and commitment to provide him the best education they can. We recognize the very important role they have played in his successes. 

We maintain that his teachers and school staff are not being provided the resources and training they need and we intend to continue to advocate for appropriate services for ALL children with autism. We wish to advocate to reduce the disparity of services for ASD individuals. To accomplish this, systemwide changes need to be made at both the district and the state level. 

I regret mentioning Adam Lanza because he is such an extreme example. While he reportedly was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, there is much speculation about other mental illnesses and even parental neglect that contributed to that tragic day. Research has proven that people with autism are much more likely to be the victims of violence and not the perpetrator.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment