Tulsa Family Fears Son Will Lose Autism Therapy Coverage
TULSA, Oklahoma - The family of an Oklahoma child with autism had a pretty bad scare recently when their son nearly drowned in the neighborhood pond. We've told you how the Ryan family's been fighting to keep Autism insurance for their son.
After this recent accident, they're more afraid than ever of losing that coverage.
Charlie's house is just across the street from the pond where he nearly drowned. Now neighbors have put up this temporary fence so something like this doesn't happen again.
"The doctor said, he has better than a 50 percent chance, and I said of what? 'Living,' said Autumn Ryan, Charlie's mother.
Charlie nearly drowned in the neighborhood pond back in October after getting out of an open door. His mom says when she realized Charlie was gone, she knew exactly where he was headed and rushed across the street.
"I got to him and I said 'Mom's here,' and he said 'ma,' as much as he could talk, and then he just went limp," she said. "His eyes rolled back into his head, and he was blue and he was bloated and I started screaming loudly."
Charlie suffered from hypothermia and had water in his lungs, spending two days in the Pediatric ICU. He is doing much better now, but his but his mom and dad say the scare is not over yet.
"I think the statistic is 29 percent of deaths of autistic children are from drowning," said Autumn Ryan.
Charlie is on the severe end of the autism spectrum. He struggles with everything from communication to understanding boundaries. But he is slowly learning how to have a more normal life, thanks to a treatment called ABA therapy.
That treatment helps him learn how to function, communicate - and ultimately - will help him learn that deep water, among other things, is dangerous.
At the end of the year, though, his insurance will no longer cover the therapy.
Oklahoma is one of six states that does not have a mandate for autism coverage, so the company has said it will discontinue it unless lawmakers change he law. That's something parents continue to rally for at the state capitol.
Now Charlie's parents sit and wait - wondering - if this is the last scare or if this is just--the beginning.
"We have fought so hard for all of his progress, and I was just scared that it would all be gone," his mother said. "I would do anything to keep him in ABA."
The Centers for Disease Control says more children may have autism than previously thought. They say as many as one in 45 children may fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.
A previous government study said it was one in 68. For now, doctors are going with the previous estimate.
A group called Autism Speaks thinks the numbers may have changed because of how the questions were presented to parents.