Improvements Sought For Autistic Children

Wednesday, April 2nd 2008, 5:52 pm
By: News On 6

Health experts are calling autism an epidemic.  The Centers for Disease Control says one in 150 children is born with the disorder.  Despite those statistics, resources in Oklahoma are few and far between.  And, we still don't know much about the disease.  The News On 6's Jennifer Pierce reports April is Autism Awareness Month and Wednesday is World Autism Day.

One on one sessions are making a big difference for four-year-old Dougie Hall.  He and the other children at The Rubicon School and Learning Center in Edmond all have something in common.  They are all autistic.

"Some children are going to be more severely affected then others.  Some are very high functioning," said Paul Boer who opened the school.

Paul Boer opened the school a year ago.  It's a place where autistic children can develop their social and language skills. Schools like those are hard to find in Oklahoma.

"Resources are spotty at best, it's getting better, but for the average family that I see with an autistic child, they are having to hunt and look for services in different areas," said Paul Boer.

One father, Douglas Hall, is grateful his son has a special school to attend.  But, it costs money to treat autistic children.

"A lot of us have gone through our life savings and retirement," said Douglas Hall.

That's why parents are putting pressure on state lawmakers to make changes.

"We want to make Oklahoma lead the nation in what we do with autistic children and adults versus lagging behind like what we're going right now," said Wayne Rohde with the Oklahoma Autism Coalition.

Wayne Rohde is spearheading Nick's Law. Named after his son, the law if passed would make autism screening, testing and treatment covered by insurance. 

"The other problem we have in this state is we have to leave the state for medical treatments.  There's not enough practitioners in the state, Nick's Law will reverse that condition," said Wayne Rohde.

There are three versions of Nick's Law.  All three are currently in the Oklahoma House.

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