Oklahoma Families Claim Children With Autism Being Left Behind

Wednesday, April 15th 2015, 6:36 pm
By: News On 6

April is Autism awareness month, but one family said their son with Autism is getting left behind now that his treatment is being stopped.

The Ryan family has struggled to get the right type of therapy for years but recently found Applied Behavior Analysis treatment, or ABA, and said it's helped their son.

The therapy is expensive, and only affordable through insurance, but the Ryans said it has been dropped.

Autism hasn't stopped 6-year-old Charlie from being like other kids his age; he likes to play and spend time with his mom and dad, he just communicates in a different way.

“He's completely non-verbal. We take him to the Learner Clinic every year and the doctors there say his best chance of communicating with us is ABA therapy," Charlie's mother, Autumn, said.

But what is ABA?

“So we look at, we assess and modify how children learn, and then we take that and then apply strategies to help them learn in the future with different skills," said behavioral analyst, Lyndsay Wheeler.

As of just a few months ago - before starting ABA - Charlie struggled with basic tasks, but now his parents say he's a completely different child.

"He's coming when we call him. He went from hitting his head almost 400 times in an hour to 75 times in a day. The improvement is huge. He can sit down and have a meal with us for the first time in his life," Autumn said.

Milestones other parent's may take for granted, are the ones the Ryan family hold dearest.

“Those are things that, if you don't have a child with Autism or with a developmental disorder, you don't think that that's a huge deal, but that's a huge thing to us," Autumn said.

Now, Charlie's ABA therapy is going away. The Ryans said his treatment will no longer be covered as of the end of this month.

Oklahoma, along with nine other states, doesn't require insurance providers to cover Autism insurance; and the Ryans have been told their coverage is no longer available.

With coverage, the family said they pay $200 a month. Without it, Charlie's therapy would be $10,000 a month out of pocket.

"It's just completely frustrating, it's like he doesn't matter, and he deserves just as much of a chance as any other child," Charlie's mother said.

We reached out to United Healthcare, the insurance provider, for comment. They have not gotten back with us.

As for The Ryan family, they'll be joining dozens of other families at the capitol next week to hold a rally and talk to state lawmakers about the problem.