Ava is a young woman with Autism who has defied the odds. At two years old, her parents were told she may never speak or make meaningful connections. Shocked by this news message from the Doctor, Ava’s parents were downhearted.
However, two years passed, and Ava uttered her first words: “Mama!” Since then, she has continued to surprise those around her with her progress. It was such a moment of joy for her family members.
At age nine, she took a stand and spoke out at the state Capitol for more help for children like herself. Her message was clear: I have Autism. Without the help of Applied Behavior Analysis, I would never have been able to vocalize my thoughts and needs. Ava also explained her reason for coming to the Capitol:
All children with Autism deserve access to ABA – a scientifically proven therapy that can help them communicate, socialize, and approach everyday tasks. It wasn’t an easy message to convey. However, Ava believed that her story and determination were the perfect platform for creating lasting change in her community. Ava revealed her struggle with Autism and the difficulty of securing access to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
Despite being a promising treatment, her health insurer had told her parents that the therapy was an “excluded coverage” – the only way was to pay full cash. It’s easy to throw in the towel and give up when you face such insurmountable obstacles, but Ava’s family didn’t do that. Instead, Her mother found a therapist in South Carolina.
This therapist agreed to come to their small town to work with her. They raised enough money to cover the cost of care out-of-pocket, and within a few weeks, Ava was able to communicate after this. This experience was a driving force in itself that prompted Ava’s mother to urge the Georgia state legislature to make ABA accessible to all children with Autism.
As soon as Ava was old enough, she joined her mother in the fight for an insurance mandate to cover these treatments. Unfortunately, the bills were repeatedly struck down – a huge disappointment each time it happened. Eventually, in 2015, Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill – Ava’s Law- into effect, mandating coverage to all children with Autism.
Currently, more than a dozen states have passed similar legislation where ABA is now covered by insurance. The only drawback now is that while there are ABA centers in these states, the reimbursement rates are still too low to cover costs, causing a shortage of therapists and resulting in long waiting lists.
The good news is that Nevada Autism Center was formed to help bridge the gap and ensure that all individuals with Autism get access to quality care. Nevada Autism’s mission is to develop and provide comprehensive resources for families of individuals with Autism to help them make educated decisions about the individual’s care. For quality ABA services, NAC is the key!