Coverage of Military Kids With Autism Isn't Good Enough for Our Troops

autismIf you're familiar with the autism spectrum, chances are you've heard the statistic. One in 110 kids today falls somewhere on the spectrum. But for the children of our nation's military, it's even higher. One in 88 military kids has autism. That's about 22,000 children. And now for the truly scary number!

The people pushing Congress to pass the Caring for Military Kids With Autism Act say that less than 10 percent of the children of our servicemen and women are getting the autism therapies they need. That's insane! If our federal government isn't getting it right, what hope do parents have in the 50 states?


Right now about 28 states mandate health insurance companies coverage autism therapies (California joined the other 27 just this fall). That means the kids who are diagnosed as being somewhere on the spectrum in those states can get services immediately to help them. But kids in the other states, well, they can't, leaving their parents to pay out of pocket for the behavioral therapy that can literally change these kids lives. And so it is for these kids on the military health plan.

TRICARE, the insurance program for military families, has a cap on how much they'll pay for behavioral health treatments. That means the burden lands on the shoulders of the kids' parents -- who are already limited in the amount of money they make. A serviceman can't exactly pick up a second job when he or she is overseas to help pay for autism treatment!

And the thing about autism therapies is they can't wait. They're called "early intervention" for a reason. In fact, the National Research Council recommends children with autism should receive approximately 25 hours of structured intervention per week when they're pre-school age! That's before they're even in school! And it doesn't end when they start kindergarten; it's a long and costly process. These kids need help, and they need it now.

Military parents are asking fellow moms and dads to help them move Congress by contacting their legislators (they've even set up a one-click website to add your name) because it isn't just about their kids. If Congress will mandate this coverage for the children of our service members, that puts us that much closer to having this sort of coverage available for all kids in every state in America.

Is your child on the spectrum? How have you covered the cost of their behavioral services?


Image via BLW Photography/Flickr

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