This guest post is by Lavanda Robertson, who is the Autism Speaks Virginia Chapter Advocacy Chair and mother of a child with autism.
Some people would say that after the first defeat, you should just give up. More people would douse you with this opinion even more heavily after the second time you go down. By the third time…
That is exactly what is going on in Virginia right now. Last week, Autism Speaks joined with the Virginia Autism Project and parents and advocates from across the Commonwealth to endorse the autism insurance reform bill for the third year in a row. Autism advocates have been working since mid to late 2008 on making this legislation a reality in our Commonwealth. Coming back for the 3rd straight year will not be easy. We may be battered, beaten and bruised from the beating we have taken, but we refuse to give up. Despite a continually mistaken opposition and a tough as nails legislature, our community and our legislative champions are still walking tall and committed to ending insurance discrimination against individuals with autism.
How is it that we are still able to do this? The only thing I can think of is a higher power that knows the intentions of our hearts and gives us the will to keep moving forward. Not only does having a child with autism rob you of sleep, nutrition, exercise and a social life, but holding down a full-time job while working around the clock on a project that has seen two years of defeat adds insult to injury. However, it is an injury that I gladly welcome. It is injury that may hurt in the short term, but whose long term benefits for our children will be great.
This is not about me, or even about what my family has been though. This is about the thousands of children in Virginia that require evidence-based medical treatment for their autism and yet are continually denied coverage from their health insurance companies for their speech therapy, occupational therapy, or behavior health treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This is about the Commonwealth of Virginia and about an entire nation that must move toward a time when all children get the medical treatment they need to lessen their symptoms of autism.
I ask that you consider this when you go through your day today. I ask you to consider taking part in this effort. There are 27 states that still have yet to see passage of autism insurance reform legislation. If you live in Virginia, please call and ask your state legislators to support the 2011 autism insurance reform bills. If you live in another state, please take a look at the AutismVotes.org website, find out where your state is in this process, and join in this effort! We will not stop our efforts in Virginia and Autism Speaks will not stop its efforts in states across the country until every individual with autism receives coverage for the care and treatments they need and deserve.
Have this wish I wish tonight