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Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 10:53pm

April is autism awareness month; East Texas organization helps families cope


POSTED: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 6:11pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 6:40pm

A growing number of families are moving to Texas for medical help with their autistic children. April is autism awareness month, which will help shed some light on a lifelong diagnosis affecting an average of one in 88 children.

Autism is a neurological, developmental disorder that affects verbal and non-verbal communication, and social behavior. Julee Renfroe has experienced this firsthand, when raising her son who was diagnosed as a young boy. Renfroe shared, "It was a very confusing, overwhelming, frightening time for many, many years". So this inspired her to help East Texans cope, where she created, "The Autism Network". Renfroe said, "Because of our journey, my husband, myself, and many other concerned professionals in this community, we developed this passion to provide a more cohesive way to access services, get a diagnosis, and then have a long term treatment plan".

Meanwhile, Texas is doing its part to help. In 2007, Governor Rick Perry signed legislation requiring Texas insurance carriers to provide coverage for autism. KETK spoke with an insurance salesman, Amy Patterson, who said, "It's exciting. Texas is clearly one of the leaders of the pack as far as trying to get help for those families". Families are eligible for the coverage if their child is diagnosed under the age of 10. Coverage varies depending on insurance plans, but the benefits of the law are as follows:

  1. Covers children from diagnosis through the age of nine for those diagnosed with ASD
  2. Does not include any yearly or lifetime caps on costs or amount of visit, but should be in parity with other benefits
  3. Covers all medically necessary assessments and services including intensive ABA-based intervention as well as speech, occupational, and physical therapy
  4. ASD must be the primary diagnosis
  5. Treatment plan must be put forth by a qualified physician
  6. ABA services may be provided by those licensed by the BACB as well as accepted ABA TRICARE service providers

So Texas and the community are joining together to help the children. If you are a family seeking help, visit: . The Autism Network will also be hosting an "Autism Expo" on April 26, 2014. It will be held at the University of Texas, Tyler, in the ballroom from 8 AM until 2 PM.

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