Friday, March 13, 2009

Forum to seek help for autistic children and their families

Published March 13, 2009

By Keith Purtell
Muskogee Phoenix Staff Writer

Parents of children with autism will get a chance to talk to Oklahoma legislators at a forum Saturday at Muskogee First Church of the Nazarene.

An effort earlier this year to pass a law requiring insurance companies to cover autism did not succeed.

Autism is a life-long developmental disability that impair a person’s ability to communicate and acquire social skills, according to Autism Edu.

Christi Kellogg, founder of the Hope Foundation, said she and other parents organized the forum as a way to open a dialogue.

“This is our way of saying ‘Hey, we’re out here, we want to talk about our issues that are going on with trying to find health care for our kids,’” she said. “Also, we have people who have suggestions about alternative ways that we could fund autism treatments in Oklahoma. So, it’s not just a way to complain about what’s going on, but a way to get with our legislators and say ‘We’ve got some ideas and we want to work together with you and find some way to resolve this health care crisis.’”

Kellogg said parents of autistic children all across the state face huge obstacles in finding and paying for treatment.

“So here we are; we have no solutions as far as our kids go,” she said. “Parents are putting multiple mortgages on their homes just to pay for treatments for their kids, if they can even find treatment. In eastern Oklahoma, you’re lucky to find speech and occupational therapy. Other than that, it’s difficult to even find services and treatments for autism.”

The forum will also be a chance to present alternative ways to fund treatment for autistic children. At least two legislators have confirmed they will attend: Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, and Rep. Kris Steele, R-Shawnee.

If you go

WHAT: Autism Legislative Forum.

WHERE: Muskogee First Church of the Nazarene, 2700 E. Peak Blvd.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday.


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