Thursday, January 20, 2011

W. Virigina Flash Mob Raises Autism Awareness

Click Here to see the video.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- As people headed into the Capital Classic Wednesday night, they probably noticed something was a little different this year.

A large group of people suddenly came together to speak out about an issue affecting thousands of families.

They're trying to get better health coverage to help kids living with autism in West Virginia.

Sonja Almonte says she sang a rendition of "Lean on Me," along with dozens of other people "because my first-born child was diagnosed at a year-and-a-half."

"My son, my 8-year-old son Logan, was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old," says Del. Denise Campbell, D-Randolph.

They're among thousands affected in many different ways. For some people diagnosed with autism, joining in the chorus isn't even possible.

There are treatments available, but they come at a steep price.

"We actually gave up our dream home to be able to provide services for our child," says Earline Anglin. "And, we're so thankful that we did because he's done very well."

Del. Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, has a child living with autism.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of 110 kids has an autism spectrum disorder.

Hunt says, "We're in the middle of an epidemic here. And the problem is not so much the price now, but what's it going to cost to take care of these people when they reach adulthood?"

He's pushing for a bill that would require insurance companies to cover people with autism.

Sometimes, those treatments can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.

"It's embarrassing that 35 or 40 other states, most of them bankrupt have already had the foresight to pass this bill. And, I think we just feel like there's a need to do it now," Hunt says.

Hunt says he expects a bill to be introduced to the Legislature as early as Thursday.


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