Find an advocate to help you successfully navigate the ASD maze


Early intervention for a child with ASD can have a profound impact on improving the child’s social, communication, and learning skills. However, finding the services to provide this much needed intervention can be a long and costly process.

Our advocacy team is here to help you untangle the details. Our advocates come from a variety of educational backgrounds and have deep roots in Washington’s autism community. They have traveled this road many times and know some of the most efficient routes to help you access the supports and services your child needs to thrive at any age.

Whether you’re trying to identify insurance benefits, write letters, appeal insurance rulings, or any number of other related tasks, our advocates can guide you through the process. We can also connect you with a low-cost or pro-bono attorney at WAAA if the appeals process has been exhausted. Pro-bono legal service is only available to medicaid eligible clients who are at or below 200% Federal Poverty guidelines.

Along with our IDEA workshops to help families navigate the IEP system, WAAA’s Special Education Parent Partners work one-on-one to help families advocate for the Special Education accommodations their child needs. We help identify services and supports, working with care providers and other agencies to ensure children have access to the educational support they need to thrive in school, regardless of economic, language, or cultural barriers.

Our programs work to ensure that those with ASD have every opportunity to thrive and be productive. Through workshops, social and recreational activities, and support and respite care, parents, teachers and other caregivers can learn how best to help those with ASD realize their full potential.

*Please note that with the exception of staff attorneys, WAAA’s advocates and parent partners are not attorneys. Any information they provide is not a substitute for specific legal advice.*


Meet our advocates:

David Roth, J.D. – Staff Attorney: Mr. Roth has been working with Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy since January 2017 to improve access to autism insurance benefits for Washington Medicaid enrollees. His legal background includes working as in-house counsel for a major healthcare provider, where he handled managed care contracting, vendor compliance, and consumer complaints. He also volunteers with several Seattle legal non-profits including the Northwest Health Law Advocates and the Greenwood Senior Law Clinic. Mr. Roth holds a Juris Doctorate from the Santa Clara University School of Law.

Andrea Kelso, J.D. – Staff Attorney: Andrea holds a Juris Doctorate from the Seattle University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies, with a focus on health care inequalities, from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Andrea has been working with Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy since the fall of 2018 to provide legal advice to families appealing insurance denials of coverage for treatments for autism and other developmental disabilities. Andrea is passionate about and committed to ensuring access to health care for all.

Mary Griffin Mary holds a Juris Doctorate from the Seattle University School of Law and a degree in nursing from Marquette University. Mary is passionate about helping families develop effective IEPs and helping them learn to navigate the IEP process. Also, Mary is committed to helping to achieve positive changes in law and policy at the local and state level through participation in committees and legislative hearings.

Trish Thrush – Health Law Advocate (Insurance Navigator): As a parent of two children with autism, Trish has a passion for lifelong learning and improving outcomes for all, including adults on the spectrum. She supports children and adults on the spectrum statewide get connected to evidence based treatment of autism. No matter where our members have been in their journey with autism, Trish has been here for them since 2012 to ensure they don’t feel alone and empowers them with tools to thrive in their own communities. Trish continues to forge personal relationships with a number of families and self advocates statewide, creating a sense of camaraderie, which contributes to our statewide advocacy projects’ overall success. “The families, self-advocates and I have built a community in WAAA, which I feel is important because now I’m helping friends. Please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Korina Heard, BSW/MSW Candidate-  Parent Partner: Korina is a Masters candidate in Social Work at the University of Washington. She has worked with at-risk youth, foster care children, and children with developmental disabilities since 2012. Korina is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Pierce County where she represents children in the foster care system in court. After being trained as an Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator, Korina helps spread cultural awareness and promotes social justice.

Beth Hammer – Southwest Washington Regional Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator Beth has lived in Southwest Washington her entire life and brings a unique combination of workforce development and disability service experience. Her passion has always been in advocating for those who society has marginalized. As the director of a one-stop career center, her team was honored with a Governor’s Award of Excellence for their creative efforts in increasing the use and accessibility of the one-stop center by those with disabilities. In her spare time she finds host families for foreign exchange students and spends as much time as possible with her daughter and granddaughter.  

Amy Schley – Education Parent Partner: Amy Schley is a parent of a daughter with high functioning autism and has firsthand experience with the difficulties of navigating the Special Education system. As an advocate for her own daughter she has gained extensive knowledge on how to effectively handle disagreements with an IEP team and is dedicated to helping other parents learn to successfully advocate for their own children’s needs at school. She will take the time to discuss current issues with parents and problem solve on the most effective approach to help them advocate for their child’s needs at school. Often times this involves helping the parent learn how to use their child’s private providers as a means to identifying appropriate services and supports. Amy will refer families to resources and support with other agencies when necessary, and will take the time to review evaluations and IEP’s in order to offer feedback. Amy is also available to help the parent write effective letters to their child’s school and acts as a resource to families to help them navigate the Special Education process.

19 thoughts on “Find an advocate

  1. I live in Clark county and am having trouble getting ABA funding from insurance, they are not offering it now or for the next year. The company is self insured, who should I contact for assistance in the SW WA area? Thanks!

  2. I live in California. And my 6 year old son was diagnosed about a year ago and it has been difficult to get him started with any kind of treatment, do you have any advice?

  3. Im needing help finding out if i and two of my children this we struggle and have trouble in doing many things we r not stupid very smart in other ways we have to componsate to get by but we see things different

  4. My 11 yr old Autistic son is not getting the support he needs at school. We live in Kitsap Co. Our school district is North Kitsap.
    I am a very active parent, and I’m trying to navigate this public school nightmare.
    Please contact me if you can help!

  5. Hello, I am looking for someone to help me find a health insurance plan that covers ABA services. I live in Kitsap County. Is this something someone can help me with? If so, who should I contact?

    Thank you!


  6. Hi, I was referred to you by someone I met in an autism moms group. I live in Snohomish County and am having insurance issues for my newly diagnosed 2-year-old. Feeling very overwhelmed right now. Thank you!

  7. Our 10 year old son is working with the folks at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, and they have recommended that he receive ABA services. However, our insurance carrier has indicated that they do not provide any coverage these services. His speech therapist, Jo Ristow, recommended we contact you for help in possibly obtaining coverage. What should we do? Thank you for your help!

  8. My grandson who is 13 and has been tested at UW University for autism. Or goal is to help him, and I cant seem to get any help. All programs are full and have a waiting list of a yr. and or over an hour drive. I need to get him involved in treatment and or a group that can help him make friends so he is not alone. Being a 7th grader and not knowing how to make friends is lonley.

  9. I have a 14 year old daughter who was diagnosed with autism. On February 18th I found out that an incident occured between my daughter and another student on the school bus. I am looking for advice regarding how to take legal action for this situation.

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