Bill would aid autistic children and their families

    Research shows early and intense treatment can dramatically help autistic children. This bill would help families pay for that treatment.

    State Sen. Liane Sorenson (R-Hockessin) says autism affects up to one out of every 110 people.

    “That is hundreds of Delaware families,” she said.

    A bill sponsored by Sorenson and introduced at Legislative Hall in Dover Thursday would help those families by requiring insurance coverage of autism treatments for children.

    “It is past time that this medical disorder is addressed with medical coverage,” Sorenson said.

    Autism impairs a person’s ability to function and interact with others in everyday life. Studies show early intervention can improve abilities in adulthood. Evidence-based treatments include speech, physical and behavioral therapies.

    But those treatments are expensive.

    “ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), shown to be the most effective autism-specific treatment at this time, can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year, which few families can afford,” said Theda Ellis, Executive Director of Autism Delaware. “So this is really an opportunity to invest in our children and invest in our families so they can grow up to be the productive citizens that they want to be and their parents want them to be.”

    Denise Bradley, of Middletown, utilized ABA methods for her son while living in New Jersey.

    “We could really see his vocabulary escalate, from 10 words to 500 in six months.”

    Bradley’s son died three years ago. But she wants to make sure other families get the treatment they need.

    “To not give that to families is just unconscionable.”

    The bill would make Delaware the 16th state to establish such a requirement.

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