AUTISM AWARENESS ADVOCATES CALL FOR BETTER INSURANCE LEGISLATION

By Henni Espinosa and Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Apr 3, 2012

On International Autism Awareness Day, parents and advocates did not just go out to inform the community about a developmental disorder that affects 1 in 88 children in the U.S., they also lobbied for universal health coverage for diagnosis and treatment of autism.

Parents and advocates are calling for the passage of this kind of law in all 50 states and for lawmakers to mandate all companies not under state jurisdiction to authorize care.

At the Janet Pomeroy Center and Autism Hearts Foundation, nonprofit organizations in San Francisco dedicated to helping people with autism, advocates said they could not stress enough how early intervention and sensory integration treatments are critical.

“We are all hoping for universal health care, some kind or another. The Obamacare program, hopefully, will expand. People need the appropriate services and the earlier people will deliver them, the healthier those people are going to be,” said John McCue, CEO of Janet Pomeroy Center.

“This is the day, this is the month that people with special needs, especially autism, are recognized their talents, their progress, their rights,” said, Lynda Borromeo, founder of Autism Hearts Foundation said.

Caring for children with autism has taken a toll on many parents — physically, emotionally and financially.

Jean Marie Gonzales has a son with autism. But because of poverty, she said it’s been a struggle trying to give her son a normal life.

Still, she has hope that more help will come their way.

“Help needs to be given to my son now. In the long run, he’s going to suffer if does not get the help he needs,” she said.

Advocates said autism needs more attention as it’s prevalent worldwide. In the Philippines alone, there are 2.5 million people with autism.

“Instead of obsessing on having these impairments cured, we would like to highlight their abilities and provide opportunities for them to apply these in meaningful occupations,” said Abelardo DAvid, founder of Independent Living Learning Center.

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to improve the lives of children and adults with autism, so they can lead full and meaningful lives.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that now, more than ever, is the time to work for a more inclusive society.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com or Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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