Parents say healthcare reform package doesn't help autistic kids

Reported by Laura Sinacori - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The President has been campaigning across the country for his healthcare reform package, but some say the plan comes up short when it comes to helping families of autistic children.

14-year-old Eric Anderson loves everything about video games. He loves to play them, sketch the characters, and even aspires to design them one day.

His mother Melonia has been helping Eric function and communicate all his life.  He was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old.  Melonia says therapies and treatments for autistic children can be expensive.

"Parents can spend 1000's of dollars and go into debt paying for more intensive therapies," said Melonia.  "It depends on how much their child needs and what therapies are recommended for them."

Like many parents, Melonia would like to see those therapies included in the President's healthcare reform plan.  She said it would be helpful for the children affected and their parents.

"If the insurance only covers 10 or 25 visits a year and the child needs to go twice that a year, the rest is out of pocket or you simply don't get therapy," said Melonia.

Since the therapy helps Eric and other autistic children learn to communicate, not having access could hurt their chances at developing essential social skills.

"If you lose ability, health insurance will pay for you to gain it or regain it, so it seems disproportionately unfair not to cover someone who needs help gaining ability," said Melonia.

Eric has been gaining communication ability everyday and will take the skills learned with him in a few weeks when he begins high school.

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