Hello, my name is Jessica Pree and I am a married mother of 4. My husband was in the United States Marine Corps for 5 years and is now the fiscal financial management analyst at a local hospital in North Carolina. My husband’s employer provides us with federal government insurance since he is a civil service employee. The health insurance is Aetna.
We have two boys, ages 8 and 6, both diagnosed with Autism when they were 18 months old. My 8 year old has made wonderful progress with little characteristics still present, while my 6 year old is still battling with the severe developmental and behavioral issues daily. They both started talking around the age of 4 years old.
I started home-schooling in January 2013. One of the most important deciding factors was the autism. He was not getting enough one on one attention, therapy and special education in public school.
Many believe autism isn’t real, that it is simply bad behavior and a parent who does not discipline. I am a strict parent. Our children need to have strict daily routines, as they have needed since infancy. My 6 year old does not respond well to change in routine, he has little to no eye contact, has sensory disorders, social and cognitive issues, behavioral problems, severe temper tantrums provoked by his disability in transitioning from one focus to another. He does not know how to channel his emotions, or understand the relation between bad behavior and consequences. He cannot follow two or more step directions without constant cues and reminders. He is a frequent bed-wetter at night because of his inability to transition from what he is currently doing to getting up to use the restroom- all medical possibilities have been ruled out. He cannot understand simple requests and reasoning. He cannot focus his mind on more than one thing at a time. He has learning disabilities. He is only content when he is focused on a television or math problems.
I have called several therapists in our area and they all claim to only accept Tricare and Medicaid insurances. They do NOT accept my husband’s expensive federal government insurance that he pays for twice a month. So, out of curiosity in consideration of paying out of pocket for the services he needs, I asked a local therapy provider how much therapy would cost for him. $124 an hour. Can you afford that? I can’t. What is the point in even having insurance if there are important services needed and they won’t even help cover it!?
I understand that the Autism Society of NC is trying to change this. And I am doing my part to help change that as well. Think about your kids or grandkids if you have them. How would you feel if your child/grandchild needed help and you couldn’t afford to help them? Please help me make it mandatory that our private healthcare insurances in NC pay for services and therapies needed for autism. While deliberating your decision, please remember how crippling this problem is to the children of not only NC, but to the other states in the US that don’t help with covering services for autism.
My child is smart, he is bright but needs help in showing his true potential. You never know..some of these children may have the answer for unlocking the troubles with cures for cancer, sicknesses, or terminal illnesses one day. But how can they acquire the education needed and experience necessary if they can’t focus long enough to learn to read, make eye contact, or write their name? How can we expect them to get better when we can’t provide them with the services they need to learn to handle their emotions, further education, become self-sufficient and live on their own?