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."
The best part of my job is meeting amazing autism families all around the country. During my time in North Carolina recently, I have heard so many inspirational stories from all corners of the state, and I want to share them during these last few weeks of the legislative session. Each day, I will share a post written by a North Carolina family who is working to help pass autism insurance reform this year. Some of these families desperately need coverage for their own child; some of them are working solely for the benefit of others. These people inspire me every single day.
Meet the Brooks Family
My name is Shea Capps Brooks, and I am writing in support of the North Carolina autism insurance bill. I am intimately aware of the importance of this legislation, as I am the mother of a child with autism. His name is Holden, and he is an active, adorable, three-year-old. Holden loves to run, climb, and play outside and in water. He is currently non-verbal and experiences a great deal of frustration stemming from his inability to communicate his wants and needs. He loves to explore new places, loves live music and marching bands, and enjoys outdoor festivals, but has to be closely monitored in social settings as his frustration can sometimes lead him to scratch or bite.
My son is perfect in every way, and I am proud to call him a mama's boy. I am his best friend, his confidant, his biggest advocate and his greatest fan. My heart aches to provide him with the tools he needs to communicate and to ease the frustration that he encounters as he strives to perform daily tasks, tasks that come so easily for the rest of us that we take them for granted.
In many ways, parents of children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are no different from other parents. We want exactly the same things for our children that all parents want. We want them to be safe and healthy and happy. We want them to live their lives capably and reach their fullest potential. We want their highest hopes realized, their fondest wishes fulfilled. The medical needs of our children, the path to their success and well-being, are just different.
All parents have a responsibility to seek out and provide the best possible medical care for their children. For our children, sometimes that medical care is not found in an IV or a prescription bottle. It is found in the skill of trained therapists. There is no debate as to whether the therapy being considered for coverage in this bill is an effective one. I am asking that my son, and all others with autism, be allowed the same access to the medical care they need as those who need antibiotics, casts, or chemotherapy.
My son tries every day to do the things he needs to do. He struggles to live in a world that often overwhelms him. He wants so badly to communicate. At the moment, he's doing everything his brain will allow him to do, but he has a physiological, brain-based disorder. And while we know that it is not curable, there are effective treatments. All I ask is that the treatment be accessible.
On behalf of my precious son and all others in our state with ASD, I urge the North Carolina Senate to pass this critically important bill.
Shea Capps Brooks
Jamestown, North Carolina