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Lorri Unumb

On the Road to Autism Insurance Reform – Coach McNeill

Lorri Unumb, vice president of state government affairs for Autism Speaks, travels the country advocating for families and individuals facing the challenges of autism. This is her ongoing series "On The Road For Autism Reform." 

A dozen years ago, I did not know what autism was.  My son with autism is 13 now and was diagnosed when he was nearly 2, so a dozen years ago I had only a passing familiarity with the word “autism,” not the deep, intense, all-consuming knowledge that permeates my every day now.

On the Road: Nothing Could be Finer...

It’s summer, and most state legislatures have wound down for the year.  Not so with North Carolina, where my travels have taken me most weeks over the last couple of months.  Along with local autism organizations, Autism Speaks continues to push for passage of House Bill 498, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 105 to 7 last year.  We’re working every angle to see passage through the full legislature during this short session in North Carolina.

On the Road to Autism Insurance Reform: Reflections on Memorial Day

Lorri Unumb, vice president of state government affairs for Autism Speaks, travels the country advocating for families and individuals facing the challenges of autism. This is her ongoing series "On The Road For Autism Reform."

I’m writing from my backyard where I’ve been sitting in the warm South Carolina sunshine trying not to think about work on Memorial Day.  I am unsuccessful. The two subjects – work and Memorial Day – are inextricably intertwined for me. 

On the Road: Extraordinary Adventures

I wrote this post from the floor of the Atlanta airport, where I spent the better part of last Thursday night.  It wouldn’t be so bad, except that I spent the better part of the day stuck in the Nashville airport.  (Sidenote:  it’s not a bad place to be stuck.  A plate of BBQ, turnip greens, fresh-based rolls with live country music . . . but I digress.)  Business travel, especially during a rough weather week, is not fun.  More on my efforts to get home in a minute.

On The Road: Targeting States

As Charlie Daniels would say, “The South’s Gonna Do It Again.”  Notwithstanding that my own home state of South Carolina was an early leader in autism insurance reform, several Southern states are still lacking insurance coverage for autism treatments.  As such, the Autism Speaks Advocacy Team has hit the road down south!  We’re working in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi as well as a handful of other states scattered around the country. 

On the Road: The Case of the Missing Minivan

I am a busy working mother.  I have 3 boys, the oldest of whom, Ryan, is severely affected by autism.  I suffer from working mother guilt. I always feel like I should be home more with Ryan or with my youngest son who is still in kindergarten, or with my middle child who is probably starved for attention.  But I love my work, because I have the extraordinary fortune of being a professional advocate for the autism community.  I spend my days, as the New York Times once put it, “barnstorm[ing] the country in an effort to get [autism insurance] laws passed.”