Thursday, October 2, 2008

Legislature needs to address autism

By Rep. Ed Cannaday
Local view

October 02, 2008 04:56 pm

— As we go into the fifth month of the legislative interim, last month was busy with interim studies at the Capitol. One such study conducted by the Economic Development and Financial Services Committee was on the question of how well our educational system is providing for the work force needs of the state.

It was clearly demonstrated that as a result of our state’s educational system being driven by No Child Left Behind and our own ACE Initiative, we are failing to provide workers for our numerous areas of state’s economic activities. This is caused by the mind-set that “Higher Education is for every student” and our graduation requirements, which are tied to high-stakes testing, is driven by this assumption.

Hopefully this study will result in legislation that will bring reality back into consideration of our educational objectives.

This committee also conducted another series of studies on autism and the need to consider mandates for insurance coverage for those with this disability.
Autism impacts families and schools as a result of the lack of early therapeutic intervention, leaving the schools with students who must be served but are not able to function in a regular classroom. We saw in this study that there is such a wide range of disability under this classification that schools can often be harmed with the monetary demands of services for these students.

The cost was demonstrated to exceed over $100,000 a year in some severe cases. It was shown that 85 percent of families with an autistic child will result in divorce. In the last session we tried to place this disability under an insurance mandate, but the Republican leadership of the House Economic and Development Committee thumbed their noses at the parents’ and children’s needs so as to please their insurance company coaches.

Maybe we have learned a valuable lesson as a result of letting the committee finally hear evidence about this matter. However, in our second study the committee still failed to come to grips with the insurance needs of families with autistic children.
Hopefully, we will address this when our 52nd Session begins in February.

E-mail District 15 state Rep. Ed Cannaday, D-Porum, by Clicking Here
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