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Advocacy Profile: "It had to be, and it was up to me."

Today was the formal bill signing of SB15-015, and it was awesome.  This photo represents the culmination of a year and half of work because someone once said to me, "If it has to be, it is up to me."

Back in the fall of 2013, I found out that Colorado's autism insurance mandate was changing.  As a result of those changes, Craig (my son) was going to lose the majority of his ABA therapy hours.  For those who are unaware, medically necessary levels of ABA therapy give children with autism the chance to gain the skills necessary to live an independent life.  So, accepting this loss of service just wasn't an option.

To do something about it, I started calling people.  I called clinics, parents, advocacy organizations, my state senator....basically anyone and everyone who would listen.

This was a little difficult as it's hard to get people excited about pretty dry DOI Rulemaking process 4-2-47.  In fact, in a recent poll (that I made up), invitations to DOI hearings ranked more effective at putting people to sleep than Bob Ross:

Thankfully, there are advocacy organizations out there, like Autism Speaks, that, like myself, happen to find the finer points of mental health parity fascinating.  These groups came together to form a collaborative effort, but the work didn't stop there.

In fact, I would describe the last 18 months as a camel would describe crossing the Sahara Desert, "Easier said than done."  Besides coordinating efforts between organizations, I....

- Generated more CORA requests than I care to admit- Made thousands of phone calls (we actually had to change our cell phone plan since I kept exceeding our limit)
- Sent endless emails
- Sat on dozens of conference calls
- Attend meetings
- Reviewed previous hearing comments
- Testified at 3 committee meetings
- Made countless trips to Denver
- And enjoyed endless amounts of Diet Cherry Coke and exercise to handle the stress

However, I can honestly say that all that work was fun.  I really did enjoy analyzing DOI bulletin B-4.71, carrying around copies of Colorado statues with me at all time, and making charts of various Senate/House committees.

So, what did I get for all that work?
- A pen used to sign SB15-015
- The opportunity to meet the Governor
- The label of being "appropriately persistent" from my state senator

Perhaps most importantly, I'm now walking proof that one person, when paired with assistance from advocacy organizations, really can make a difference.  It's been an awesome 18 months. 



The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.