Thursday, June 11, 2009

Autism Coverage: Too Scary For A Vote

Autism coverage: Too scary for a vote

Submitted by Sherman Potter on May 21, 2009 - 11:15am

Conspicuously absent from Friday's final batch of legislating was a widely-supported bill to require insurers to cover treatment for autism. Under the bill, insurance companies would have to cover up to $55,000 annually for "applied behavioral analysis" for children younger than 15.

In their end-of-session wrap, the Star wrote, "The Senate liked a measure to require insurance companies to cover children with autism, but it couldn't get traction in the House." Actually, the bill had considerable traction in the House -- just not with Speaker Ron Richard and Majority Floor Leader Steve Tilley. The bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support (it passed 29-2 in the Senate), and almost certainly would have passed the House -- so Richard and Tilley refused to let it come up for a vote.

Richard promised to block the bill in early April, and delivered on his promise to put insurance companies ahead of families and children with autism.

Of course, there's no way their financial support from insurance companies had anything to do with the decision.

Family values!

Mother Finds Autistic Child Naked In Classroom

Mother Finds Autistic Child Naked in Classroom

Reported by: Ryan Kath Email: Last Update: 6/09 12:29 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The mother of an autistic student is speaking out after discovering her daughter naked in a North Kansas City School District classroom.

Kim Elliott and 10-year-old Alyssa will spend the summer flipping through flash cards and learning new words. As Alyssa prepares to enter the sixth grade, Elliott can’t stop thinking about a May 19 incident at Linden West Elementary.

The school held its Field Day events, which included several water activities. Elliott had volunteered at Linden Elementary during the event. Before she left the building, she stopped to drop something off at her daughter’s classroom.

“When I went to the classroom, I opened up the door and I was just completely shocked beyond belief,” Elliott said. “I can't even express the words because my daughter was standing there just maybe six feet from the door and she was completely naked.”

Alyssa was one of seven students with special needs in the classroom. They were accompanied by an instructor with 20 years of special education experience and three teaching aides.

The students were changing out of clothes that had become wet during water activities. The staff members had placed a divider in the classroom to keep the boys and girls separated. However, staff members said Alyssa disrobed before they were prepared.

Elliott said her daughter should not have been undressing in the same room as boys and was discriminated against based on her disability.

“My daughter was on full display. There was a boy who was looking at her when I walked in the classroom. There were also uncovered windows and an unlocked door,” she said.

When Elliott questioned why the students were not changing in a bathroom, she said the teacher told her there was “urine on the bathroom floor.”

On Monday, the North Kansas City School District said it had investigated the situation and determined “there could have been a better plan in place to help each child get the privacy she deserved and will get in the future.”

“First and foremost, I would like to share our apologies to the family. We never intended for this to happen,” said Julie Badders, an assistant principal at Linden West Elementary.

According to district officials, the school is also reconsidering the use of water activities during future Field Day events.

Elliott wants to know if the teacher will be disciplined for the incident involving her daughter. However, any actions taken are confidential because it is considered a private personnel matter, according to district spokeswoman Mary Jo Burton.

“If there is not some type of consequence more severe than just going over policies and procedures or things like that then it's never going to change,” said Elliott.

While hoping to get the word out to other parents who may have had special needs students in Alyssa’s classroom, the mother also wonders what else her daughter has been unable to tell her.

“It’s terrifying to stop and think what has happened when we weren’t there,” she said.

Elliott plans to tell her story during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s North Kansas City School Board meeting.

Burton said it was an unfortunate isolated incident and said the district provides a quality education for about 1,930 special needs students. Approximately 100 of those students are diagnosed with autism.

A Night At Maxwells

Lee’s Summit Autism Support Group Presents
A Night at Maxwell’s

Proceeds to benefit the families of children with special needs and the Heaven’s Gate Llama Ministry

Hartley Plaza on the corner of 3rd and Douglas streets in Downtown Lee’s Summit
June 18, 2009
6 PM to close

There will be celebrity guests, llamas and alpacas, Jackson County Sheriff’s deputies, clowns, face painting, Silent Auction of sports memorabilia, and so much more.

Come join us for the fun. There is no cost for this event. Families are encouraged to come and have dinner and a portion of the cost of your meal will be donated to the Lee’s Summit Autism Support Group and the Heaven’s Gate Llama Ministry.

The Lee’s Summit Autism Support Group supports families that have children with all disabilities. They educate families on their rights to a free and appropriate education, the services that are provided for children with disabilities and how to access them, advocate for children with disabilities, and support families that have children with disabilities.

Sherri R. Tucker
President, Lee's Summit Autism Support Group