Parents push for autism study to create law

Thursday, September 18th 2008, 8:08 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- One in 150 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism. Parents in Oklahoma have said time and time again they need more services for their kids and help paying for them. That's why one state lawmaker is taking a closer look at the issue.

An interim study on autism took place Thursday at the State Capitol.

This is the first of several studies prompted by the failure of Nick's Law last session. Lawmakers want to know what families with autistic kids need and the families came to tell them.

In front of lawmakers Wayne Rohde discussed autism.

"We spend, currently, nearly $5,000 a month on services for Nicholas," Rohde said.

His son Nick has autism. Last session, Rohde and so many parents worked tirelessly to pass Nick's Law, which would've forced insurance companies to cover autism treatments. The bill died, but the families are still fighting.

"The intervention is going to be much more effective the earlier we can get to them," Lara Mattox with Tulsa Developmental Pediatrics said.

This interim study on autism gives families hope, that this session will be different.

"I wanted the representatives to know who they're talking about and who this effects," Laurie Mitchell, granddaughter has autism, said.

Representative Kris Steele is heading up the comprehensive autism study. He is looking at what services the state has, what's not available and how to address a shortage in treatment providers.

"We wouldn't be spending this much time and this much energy and putting forth this much effort if we didn't plan to truly address this issue in good faith and a whole-hearted effort," Rep. Kris Steele (R) District 26 said.

The families, who are begging the state for help, again, this year, don't want their pleas to fall on deaf ears.

"I respect each and every one of them for taking the time to hear us out and I'm hoping they'll learn enough from these studies to change their minds and help us get it passed," Mitchell said.

Senator Gumm, author of Nick's Law, said he'll author the same bill this session, trying to get it passed.

Steele will hold another study session next week.