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Bill could make treatment more affordable for state employees' children

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by John Wilmer

CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- A bill that would pay for autism treatment for Iowa state employees' children is on it's way to the Iowa House. Many people praise this as a giant step forward in autism treatment, but others say the bill doesn't go far enough.

To Suzanne Bartlett her son John is perfect, autism has not stopped him from becoming a well rounded child. However, it hasn't always been easy, in fact, it has taken a lot of work.

"John was having a lot more trouble at school when he started first grade and school was starting to become academically more challenging for him and so he was acting out behaviorally and not working, refusing to work. He was being very difficult at home and difficult at school.... Extremely trying," said Bartlett.

Suzanne decided to have John take part in applied behavior analysis in Iowa City. ABA takes what doctors know about behavior and uses it to bring about changes of the behavior.

"We stayed in Iowa City for two weeks that meant I had to take two weeks off of work, had to stay at a hotel for two weeks, pay for meals, gas, which was about four dollars a gallon at the time and pay for the ABA therapy out of pocket because it was not covered by insurance," Bartlett said.

The cost of ABA therapy is $700 a day. It's because of that high price some members of the Iowa State Legislature to find ways to make insurance companies help pick up some of the cost.

"We just want to prove these services are beneficial to kids and then track that and we believe that will show a reduced coast to the state," said Rep. Mark Kuhn.

Suzanne Bartlett says ABA has helped her son immensely and if it was more affordable more children could benefit.

"He's doing very well in schools now. He just participated in his first piano audition last weekend and he received a superior rating which is huge to me. He's just doing very well."

The bill is now in the Iowa House and could be debated sometime next week.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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