But HealthPartners and other insurance companies won't pay for it
By Nick Pinto Wednesday, Jan 26 2011
Tracy Reid was bawling uncontrollably, and the medical specialist sitting across from her couldn't understand why. She had just told Reid that her five-year-old son Max scored normally on a battery of mental tests and had an average IQ. What was there to cry about?
Max Reid, now five, was diagnosed with autism in 2008
Tracy Reid used to fear that the kiss in this photo would be the only one she'd ever get from her son. Thanks to Max's therapy, she no longer worries that he'll need a lifetime of institutional care.
Through her tears, Reid tried to explain: The assessment of Max brought to a close three years in which the single mother thought her son would never be normal, would never be able to go to college, would never be able to take care of himself.
Reid hadn't let herself cry since Max was diagnosed with autism. He showed many of the obvious signs: He didn't like to be close to other people, wouldn't make eye contact. He was slow to learn to talk, and fell behind the curve in picking up the skills most young children learn. He threw violent tantrums.
On her dresser at home, Reid kept a picture of what would probably be the only kiss Max would ever give her. Captured against a photography studio backdrop, the shot shows Max lunging at his mother in a bizarre, open-mouthed embrace.
Shortly after the picture was taken, Max became so uncomfortable with physical contact that kisses were unimaginable.
When Max was diagnosed with autism in 2008, the outlook wasn't good. His IQ classified him as mentally retarded. On the Global Areas of Functioning scale, a way of measuring how well you fit into society, he scored an abysmal 45. Reid wouldn't admit it to herself at the time, and even now feels ashamed to say so, but as the scope of Max's problems became clear, she felt like she was grieving the loss of her son.
Still, she wasn't ready to give up on him. She had health insurance through her work as a lawyer at the Legal Aid Society, and set about looking for treatments that could help Max. Eventually, she found the Minnesota Early Autism Project, which has had good results with a form of treatment called Intensive Early Intervention Behavior Therapy, or IEIBT.
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