This guest post is from Paul Silver, a 25-year-old self-advocate with Asperger Syndrome. Paul discusses Ava's Law, an autism insurance reform bill now before the Georgia Legislature. You can take action to help pass Ava's Law here.
In early of 2013, I saw a news report from WXIA about Ava Bullard and her mother’s fight on Insurances for Autism. I thought to myself what an outrage that this family and other Georgia families can’t have their insurance pay for treatment. I email my lawmaker in the state house, Representative Mike Dudgeon, to support Ava’s Law (The Autism Insurance Reform Bill). He emails me back and the email said:
“My middle son was on the very mild end of Aspergers, so I appreciate your situation.
Unfortunately this bill did not advance because of a general provision we have around insurance mandates. Each mandate sounds good on its own but if you do all of them you drive up the cost of insurance quite a bit. However, I think this one is pretty good and hopefully we will get it done next year.”
Thanks for writing
I read that email several times and thought does he support his son or does he support the majority of the people who do not support the bill? After the bill went to a committee that was newly made to look at Ava’s Law, I was furious with the state government that governs the state that I was born and raised in. Then I decide to something about it. In November 2013, I finally met with Ava’s Mom, Anna, and I said to her, “I am ready to help you with this fight because I have Autism, too.”
Finally, On February 4th, 2014, I went to the Georgia State Capitol armed with a Power Point about Ava’s Law on my tablet and two friends who have Aspergers themselves. I also brought with my most treasurable item which was a baby picture of me with my grandfather. The picture was giving to me by my grandfather’s second wife, Alice, during my Bar Mitzvah. My grandfather was a doctor and started a medical facility inside the State Capitol. My grandfather was also a lobbyist for the Medical Association. But sadly, my grandfather passed away in April 2002.
Anyway, my friends and I get to the State Capitol. We found the room where Autism Speaks was having their rally and then I was asked if I would like to be interview about Ava’s Law. I say yes. The reporter from WGCL asked what I think what of my autism? I say Autism is a blessing and a curse. Then he asked me why that is? I had to think of that and then say “A blessing, you know that you are different and a curse because it is very hard to get along with you peers.” The blessing part of my statement to the reporter was very difficult for me because I did not have a very good answer in my head.
However, the curse part of my statement to the reporter was somewhat easy because I was often bullied by my peers in my years of public education. The bullying was so bad during my first two years of high school; my parents move me and my brothers to a different high school for the last two years of high school. My interview was show on the five o’clock news. After my interview I walked to the doors to house chambers and found Mike Dudgeon and show him my power point.
While I was talking to Mike, I saw Anna Bullard and her daughter Ava walking out of the Speaker David Ralston’s office. I show Anna and Ava my power point. They were so glad that I came to capitol and very impressed with my power point. But on the State Senate side I could not get in touch with my state senator. After two attempts he still would not come out. I know this going to be hard but I will not be satisfied until Ava’s Law is sign by Governor Nathan Deal.