Paving the way for insurance coverage by Group Health

Declan was one-and-a-half years old when he was diagnosed with autism. His parents had started noticing a difference when he didn’t seem to behave like other babies his age. He was a content baby, but not as attached to his parents as most socially typical babies were. “Once we got the diagnosis, we were devastated, but it allowed us to move forward to find him the therapy he needed,” his parents said.

When they sought treatment for him, Declan’s parents were shocked and discouraged to find that many insurance providers do not cover therapies and rehab for children with autism. They looked at several different plans and learned that some insurers even explicitly excluded autism treatments in their benefit manuals. While they were able to receive an evaluation quickly through a study at the University of Washington, they were randomly selected as a control group that was not going to get the treatment at the UW.  …Continue Reading!


The village that helped Sean

Susan Murdoch was all too familiar with that feeling of helplessness and fear that comes when one’s child is diagnosed with autism. “The day Sean was diagnosed with autism was the hardest and saddest day of my husband’s and my life,” she said.

The biggest obstacle that Susan and her family faced was not knowing very much about autism and where to go for help. “We felt completely lost and bewildered,” she said. There were few resources and support available and they felt alone. Luckily, Susan was referred to an incredibly helpful ABA therapist, Dr. Rinamarie Leon-Guerrero. They were also able to enroll Sean into the Experimental Education Unit at the University of Washington. The program offered her and her husband a “village” of support resources, understanding, information, and educational opportunities…Continue Reading!


Multiple diagnoses challenge David’s family

Her son, David, was only nine months old when Gina began to notice that he was showing signs of developmental problems. Having fallen behind in both gross and fine motor skills, David was soon diagnosed with low muscle tone, also known as hypotonia. Concerned for his welfare, his mom took him to physical and occupational therapy. But David’s challenges did not stop there—at 18 months, he was diagnosed with apraxia of speech, a condition characterized by difficulty making the facial movements necessary to form sounds or words. After enrolling David in speech therapy, Gina questioned whether autism could be a factor. She obtained a referral to the Children’s Autism Center in Seattle, where he underwent an evaluation in September 2011. There, David was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at age four…Continue Reading!


Overcoming obstacles to coverage from Medicaid

When J. A. was first diagnosed with autism at 21 months old, her parents knew there was no time to waste. She needed to receive the proper rehabilitation and therapies so that her development would not regress. They learned about the Early Steps Study at University of Washington. Much to their disappointment, they were selected as the control group; the specialists only observed J.’s condition, with no direct intervention. Her doctors had prescribed ABA therapies to the parents, but unfortunately it was not covered under Medicaid. They didn’t have the resources to pay for the dosage privately. While the parents were able to secure five hours of neurodevelopmental therapy a week, they saw little progress. J.’s mother said it was a horrible feeling as parents to not be able to secure the appropriate help their daughter needed…Continue Reading!


Single mom faces insurance coverage challenges and lack of providers

Trevor was only one year old when his mother, Lydia, began to notice that he wasn’t quite at the same level as other children his age. Concerned, Lydia went to Trevor’s pediatrician, who recommended not comparing him to other children, as sometimes boys develop slower. After three years, when she noticed that his younger brother had more words in his vocabulary, she knew something was wrong. At the age of four, Trevor was finally diagnosed with autism. The family has faced many challenges ever since. Lydia has been raising her two boys as a single mother after her husband died. The family qualified for Apple Health, but the plan didn’t cover any of the ABA therapies Trevor needed and none of the speech and language pathologists with autism experience in the area accepted Medicaid. She had no resources to leverage and was at a loss of what to do…Continue Reading!


loaris family

Children in rural setting now getting needed treatment

It was not long after Eric’s 15-month checkup that Amanda and James Loaris began to notice that their son was showing signs of being a “late talker”—an early lack of speech development that is a common symptom of autism. After Eric’s second birthday, his pediatrician had some very difficult news for his family: It was looking increasingly likely that Eric was on the Autism spectrum; thus, the gap separating him from his peers would likely continue to widen. Not long after his visit with the pediatrician, Eric was referred to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism.

Though Samantha’s early development appeared to be normal, with her big brother’s experience in mind, her parents observed her closely for warning signs. Only two months after passing her one-year checkup, Samantha began experiencing a very sudden regression…Continue Reading!

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The inspiration behind WAAA’s health insurance advocacy – Shayan Forough

Shayan Forough and his mother, Arzu, have cleared many obstacles since Shayan was diagnosed with autism at two years old. Shayan has struggled with learning to communicate, developing motor skills, making connections with other people, and even overcoming self-injury. But he has made great strides in these areas, thanks to behavior therapy. He is also the inspiration behind Arzu Forough’s continuous effort to advocate for health insurance reform and improvements to public school education.

During her son’s lifetime, the mother of two has pushed for autism insurance reform in two states – including Washington, where a bill was named after Shayan. She won a class-action lawsuit regarding autism insurance against the state of Washington, and, most recently, obtained legislative funding for her nonprofit organization, Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy, that helps advocate for families struggling with self-funded health insurance for autism…Continue Reading!

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Tyler Football 2

Financial and marital challenges in the face of getting needed treatment

Jay and Jan noticed around 18 months of age that Tyler was different from the other children at a mother’s group that Jan attended. He had about a dozen words in his vocabulary and did a lot of lip-reading to understand what others were saying to him. After a while, became very upset about going to the group, likely due to frustrations over his communication challenges, and they stopped going. At the two-year checkup, Jan brought the concerns to Tyler’s pediatrician, who said, “We might have to think about autism.” Jay and Jan had no idea what that meant. They were referred to a birth-to-three center, where at 27 months of age, Tyler received his diagnosis of ASD. Acceptance of the diagnosis and overcoming fears was a very difficult challenge. Jan began reading everything she could find about autism, and gradually shared news of the diagnosis in order to seek the support of friends and family…Continue Reading!

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Arthur and Jace babies-1

Friends and family raise funds for ABA therapies prior to insurance coverage

At 16 months, Arthur was not responding to his name, making eye contact, or following simple directions. He lined up toys with mathematical precision, flipped through books at lightning speed, had an unusually long attention span for letters and numbers, and seemed disconnected from the world around him.

Knowing there is a wide range of normal at such a young age, his parents thought perhaps he was a late talker, contemplative, or maybe experiencing problems with his hearing. His symptoms became more pronounced, and when Arthur was 19 months old, his doctor took the family’s concerns seriously. The parents were referred to a psychiatrist and Arthur was given a diagnosis of autism at 22 months of age…Continue Reading!

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Lina, age two park

Family now equipped to self-advocate for health insurance and educational needs

Angelina’s parents were fascinated with everything she did. They spent every moment gazing at her, completely in awe, thinking how perfect she was. During her first two years, her parents developed deep concerns. Angelina allowed only them to hold her. She screamed in crowds and was sensitive to change. Her pediatricians were not concerned. “Lina” had learned how to speak much earlier than other children, could make eye contact, and met expected developmental milestones…Continue Reading! 

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Support for family with two children on the spectrum makes world of difference

Soon after moving to Tacoma, Washington, Bode’s parents started noticing certain worrisome signs. He was walking on his tiptoes, lining toys up and not sharing them, and not making eye contact. The few words he had learned early on vanished.  When Bode was around 18 months old, the parents decided to get him evaluated by a developmental pediatrician. Bode was officially diagnosed with autism at the age of two. It was devastating news. The family felt lost and very isolated…Continue Reading! 

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chloe

Critical support for family in quagmire with public schools over proper education

Today Chloe is a happy, enthusiastic second grader who enjoys art, play dates with friends, and school, thanks to her determined mother, Amy, who refused to give up. Chloe was diagnosed with autism at age three. By the time Chloe was 2 years old, her parents noticed that she was having difficulty communicating compared to other children her age. They decided to seek help when Chloe was unable to respond in any way to very simple questions.

They started her in a developmental birth-to-three program at Boyer Children’s Clinic, where she attended preschool and received occupational and speech therapies. When she graduated from that program, Chloe entered the Shoreline School District’s early childhood program. Around four years old, she seemed to need more opportunities for reciprocal conversation, so her parents found a daycare where the lead teacher had a background in special education… Continue Reading! 

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