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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. February 21, 2010

USAAA WeeklyNews Opinion
USAAA WeeklyNews Opinion features comments and discussion from readers, as well as readers' recommended resources. The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of USAAA. The USAAA WeeklyNews Opinion will be delivered every Sunday to your email inbox.


Parenting A Child With Asperger's Syndrome
By Jeff Witzeman
It seemed like an innocent enough request: "Dad can you take my friends and I to Chinatown this Friday when we have the day off?" "Sure," I said. After all it would be good to get out and do something. As I thought about things more and more though, something didn't add up. Why Chinatown? My 14-year-old Asperger's son and his friends clearly didn't have an interest in Chinese culture. I heard the word "knuckles" in one of their phone conversations and deduced brass knuckles as being on of the things they wanted to buy. "Fine," I thought. The boys weren't the fighting kind and though brass knuckles are illegal, what's the harm?

In the car on the way, one of my son's friends who I'll call Drew said, "Are you just going to drop us off and we'll meet you in a couple hours?" "No, I'll be with you the entire time," to which Drew tried a few other tactics to try and keep me away. Read more about Parenting A Child With Asperger's Syndrome .

Autism's rise has silver lining
by Laura Shumaker
Are you the parent of an adult with autism? Looking back, what has been the most challenging stage of your child's life so far? I asked fans of my autism facebook forum, and the toddlerhood/diagnosis stage won first place with adolescence a very close second.

"The tantrums at the grocery store were the worst," said Julie, the mother of a 24 year old son. "I'll never forget the looks and the comments. No one knew much about autism in those days." Read more about Autism's rise has silver lining.

How to launch a second career
"When launching a second career, you have much less time to foul things up," says Jeffrey Deutsch. "That's what your first career was for."

He earned graduate degrees in economics, planning to go into teaching or research. But Deutsch, who has Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, says, "Many 'Aspies' have a hard time getting and keeping jobs, friends, relationships, even places to live ... and I was no exception." Read more about How to launch a second career.

New take on 'Parenthood'
"Parenthood" was the hit 1989 comedy from Oscar winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, starring Steve Martin, Dianne Wiest and a very young Keanu Reeves and Joaquin Phoenix. Now NBC has reimagined the flick as a one-hour drama series, which has a lot of its own star power.... We caught up with Graham, Katims and Howard, a longtime Armonk resident who's also serving as a producer on the show, during a recent conference call with reporters.

In the series, one couple's son is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Why did you want to deal with that issue? Read more about New take on 'Parenthood'.

Support Services missing in budget
I wish they would put a larger percentage [of the proposed HHS budget for autism] into “support services”, which would mean (among other things), that they would provide for personal aides and health aides to visit autistic adults in their homes, and provide whatever is needed (which is determined by an assessment performed by a Nurse). There are many of us who need such a thing. — Clay

Waiting for services is shameful and unacceptable
Last week [February 1] we were busy in committee with bill introductions, scheduling hearings and listening to presentations from advocacy groups, lobbyists, and state agencies. The process to bring a bill to the floor is slow and we have not voted on substantial legislation yet this session.

I have gone on a rant periodically to denounce the very existence of a wait list for the educationally and developmentally disabled. To make people wait for services we’re required to provide is shameful and unacceptable. Autism is usually diagnosed at the age of 2 or 3 and giving the proper treatment and therapy may lead to that child functioning at a much higher level, resulting in a producing a future contributing citizen rather than a dependent citizen. If that child has to wait an average of 4 years for intervention, this opportunity is lost. We cannot allow this to happen. Any money we save out of the school budget needs to go towards eliminating this disgraceful list.

House leadership did it right in 2009. Speaker O’Neal directed the Appropriations Chair to add $15.6 million to the budget to eliminate the list and we voted it out of the House. The Senate reduced it to $8 million but our House conferees got the Senate to agree to a $10.4 final version. When the bill got to our dear departed Governor’s desk, she line item vetoed the entire amount. Shame on her.

HB2367 and SB12 both require insurance companies to provide coverage for treatment of autism. Several states have this law in effect and evidence is clear that offering therapy to autistic children actually saves money over the long run. The insurance lobby is fighting the bill, as are legislators who object to mandates. It will be a close vote. I strongly support this law. — Kansas House of Representative Mike Kiegerl

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