Introductions – Sarah

Autism has officially been a part of my life since December 2, 2009, when the evaluator I took my son to, handed us this word and all the information we could possibly need – if we had lived in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, we did not. We lived in West Virginia.

Of course, being an internet junky, I turned to Google who led me to the Autism Training Center, a program run by Marshall University. The woman I spoke to there was so kind, so sympathetic to my situation that she brought a large folder full of stuff to my house that evening. Because she didn’t want me to feel lost. We need more people like her in the world, let me tell you.

I am one of the very lucky ones in my situation. Because my husband works in Pennsylvania, and our insurance is through the company, Act 62 applies to us. That means my son’s therapy is covered by our insurance. Without that, I don’t know what we would do.

I applied for West Virginia’s program, Title 19, and was denied. We’re on the waiting list for assistance from Marshall’s program.

I’ve written to senators, asked them why on earth it is so difficult to get help in my state. To their credit, both of them responded, asked me for more information to see if they could do something to help. But it shouldn’t be about my one little case, it should be about reform for the whole state. The statistics are alarming, 1 in 150 kids will be diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum. With the right tools, therapy, and assistance, these kids can do anything – I firmly believe that. So why isn’t there more focus on helping them? On helping their families help them?

Recently, I started attending a new local support group. I met other parents going through the same things, fighting the same fight. It was the best thing that could have happened. Out of that support group, out of a shared need for the right equipment, a shared desire to help other families not feel as lost or alone as we did, that we started The Ohio Valley Autism Network. To be honest, if we can help even one parent find the services they need, get the equipment they need, I will consider it a success.

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